Employment Advice (For Business)

Your employment rights as a ‘Christmas temp’

Every year, businesses across the UK take on additional seasonal workers. It can be a great time to start working in a business, where the work is fast-paced and the atmosphere is festive.

17 Dec 2021

Team name
Esther Marshall

Esther Marshall

However, even though your workplace may be busy, it is no excuse for your employer to overlook your employment rights. In this article, we provide you with the basic information to understand your rights as a temporary Christmas employee.

You are entitled to the same working conditions as permanent employees (in fact, you have some additional rights).

When you are hired as a fixed-term or seasonal employee, you obtain the same rights in law as your permanent counterparts working in a similar role. For example, you should be given the same pay, working hours, and holiday entitlement as if you are a permanent employee of the business.

Here are some of the legal rights you have as a temporary Christmas employee:

  • You must be paid at least the national minimum wage
  • You must receive a wage slip, and your employer must ensure you are paying tax and National Insurance contributions on your earnings
  • Your employer must not unlawfully deduct any pay from your wages
  • You must not be required to work more than 48 hours per week on average, unless you have consented to this by ‘opting out’
  • You are entitled to rest breaks
  • Your employer must protect you from discrimination
  • You are protected from whistleblowing
  • You may be entitled to maternity/paternity leave

You are also protected against less favourable treatment than permanent employees which means you must receive the same pay, conditions and benefits as permanent employees and you must be informed about any permanent vacancies that become available.

You must be given a contract of employment

Even if you are only working with an employer for a short time, you must be given a contract of employment – this is a legal requirement.

You must be given notice if your employer wishes to end your contract early

If you are employed on a temporary contract, this will usually be for a fixed term. If your employer wants to end your employment contract early, they can only do so where this is specified in the contract. They must also provide you with notice – at least one week where you have been working for them continuously for at least a month.

Am I entitled to redundancy pay?

To be entitled to redundancy pay, you must have worked continuously for your employer for two years or more. However, despite this and in addition to being entitled to a notice period of at least one week, you should be paid throughout this, and your final pay should include other outstanding pay, such as any leftover holiday pay.

You are entitled to holidays

Yes, that’s right – even Christmas temps get holidays. Employees accrue holiday days (or pay) pro-rata, which means that the number of days you are entitled to will depend on how long you have worked for your employer. Permanent, full-time employees (working a 5-day work week) receive 28 days per year – the equivalent of 5.6 weeks. Your employer should calculate your holiday entitlement, no matter how long you have worked there.

Bank holidays over Christmas – are these included?

You should bear in mind, particularly over the Christmas period (Christmas Day, Boxing Day etc), that your employer can include bank holidays as part of your statutory holiday entitlement. Bank holidays do not also have to be given as paid leave and this will be up to your employer.

M&P Commentary

Esther Marshall, a Senior Associate Solicitor in our Dispute Resolution team, said:

“Expert commentary: It is widely thought that temporary workers don’t have any rights, and for that reason some employers may try to take advantage. If you are at all unsure as to what your rights as a temporary worker are, or are an employer wishing to engage seasonal temps, the expert employment team at Mullis & Peake will be able to assist.”

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