Employment Advice

Hiring Christmas temps – What are the rules?

Christmas is often the busiest time of the year for many businesses, so the extra support from temporary staff, ‘Christmas temps,’ around this time, is often appreciated.

01 Dec 2022

Team name
Esther Marshall

Esther Marshall

As an employer, however, it is important you know the rules inside out to keep you on the right side of employment law.

The basics – pay

In the UK, there are minimum wages that all workers, regardless of their employment status, must receive. You cannot offer them a wage lower than this because they are temporary workers. The amount payable changes depending on the age of the individual, but at the time of writing, the minimum wage for each age group stands as:

  • £9.50 for those aged 23 years old and above,
  • £9.18 for those aged 21-22 years of age,
  • £6.83 for those aged 18-20 years of age,
  • £4.81 for those aged 16-17 years of age.

It is a legal requirement that all workers receive this pay rate or above.

National Living Wage

The National Living Wage is a legal requirement for all those aged 23 years old and above. It is not a requirement to pay staff outside this age bracket £9.50. However, if you are looking to grow your business’s reputation as an employer, it may be beneficial to consider this, as it is seen as good corporate social responsibility.

Employee and workers’ rights

Under employment law, there are certain rights that all staff have, and you, as an employer, must ensure they receive them. This includes:

  • Maximum working hours of 48 hours per week is respected.
  • Rest breaks should be received by all staff at the appropriate time intervals.
  • Every paid member of staff should receive a pay slip detailing how much they have received in wages, their National Insurance (NI) reductions, and their tax information.
  • Discrimination laws are applicable to all staff. Everyone in the UK has protection under the Equality Act 2010, and as an employer, you can be challenged for making discriminatory decisions.
  • Staff are protected from detrimental treatment as a consequence of whistleblowing; this includes temps.

Fixed-term contracts

To protect you and your business, all Christmas temps you hire should receive an employment contract; it is also a legal requirement for this to happen early on. When hiring for a period like Christmas, the contract offered is likely to be for a fixed term. You can end this earlier, but only if it is stated within the contract that this can be done and the notice period outlined followed.

Holiday pay

Even on a temporary, fixed-term contract, Christmas temps are entitled to holiday pay when they accrue the days. It is important that you, as their employer, calculate these days and keep track of them.

M&P Commentary

Esther Marshall, a Member in the Dispute Resolution team and specialist employment solicitor, said:

“It is easy for employers to think that workers hired just for the Christmas period don’t have the same protection as permanent employees, but this is not the case. If you are in any doubt as to whether your hiring practices, pay arrangements or temporary contracts are in line with the applicable law, we can assist with a full review. Taking early steps to ensure compliance can save your business the cost and inconvenience of a claim in the New Year.”

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