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A guide to the different types of seasonal workers and their rights

Adrian Fryer

Adrian Fryer

During demanding times, many companies need to bring in temporary staff members to help take on the additional work.  Seasonal workers can provide an effective short-term solution, however, it is important that you do not neglect their rights.

There are different ways in which businesses attempt to plug labour shortages; all come with their own pros and cons.

Some businesses opt to engage fixed-term workers. Fixed-term workers are generally employees. They have a right to be treated as favourably as the permanent employees. They also have day one rights in relation to discrimination under Equality Act 2010. They should receive a written contract of employment which sets out the fixed-term period of employment. Consideration should be given to including a clause which allows the business to terminate the employment earlier than the end of the fixed term. This would allow the business to work flexibly if demand is not as high as anticipated, or if there are issues with an employee’s performance.

Another option is to engage agency workers. Agency workers have no direct contractual relationship with the business. The business will use an agency to provide it with workers. The Agency Workers Regulations 2010 apply to agency workers who are assigned to do temporary work for hirers through temporary work agencies. The workers have day one rights – the business must allow access to collective facilities and amenities and provide access to information about job vacancies from the first day of their assignment. Under the Agency Workers Regulations 2010, when an agency worker has undertaken the same role, whether on one or more assignments, with the same hirer for 12 continuous calendar weeks, they are entitled to the same rights as someone employed directly.

A third option is to engage zero hours workers. These workers would be engaged by the business directly on an ‘as and when required’ basis. They would have day one rights in relation to discrimination and would also have an entitlement to paid holiday. This form of engagement works best where the business is not sure of the level of additional labour required. The downside is that zero hours workers have the right to refuse work offered. So, if you have insufficient numbers on your books, you may not have sufficient labour in place to support a sudden increase in demand.

Contact our Employment team.