What you need to know when hiring temporary staff

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The demands of the Christmas season can often also mean you need to hire additional temporary staff in your business. This can provide extra people to cope with increased sales and provide support to your existing workforce.

However, if you have never considered hiring temporary staff before, then there are some legalities that you need to be aware of. Here we look at what you need to know when hiring temporary staff.

Ways of hiring
There are a few different ways that you can hire temporary staff. Consider all your options and choose the route that is most suitable for your needs.

Fixed term contract
This is a contract of employment for a specific amount of time and will either have a specified date at which the contract ends. Or it may state that the contract ends on completion of a project or task.

Seasonal employees that are only needed to cover the festive period are often hired on a fixed term contract.

Fixed-term employees must receive the same treatment as full-time permanent staff. Find out more about fixed-term employees’ rights here.

Agency workers
You may choose to hire your temporary staff via an agency. If you do decide to go down this route, then ensure that you are aware of and comply with the agency workers’ rights under the Agency Worker Regulations. You can learn more about agency workers here.

The cost of hiring through an agency falls on the employer. So, you will not be paying the standard hourly rate that you currently pay for other employees, you will also have an agency fee on top of this cost. The temporary worker will then be paid by the agency.

If you decide that the temporary worker would make a good employee, then you are likely to be charged an additional ‘transfer fee’ by the agency in order to do this.

Look at a variety of agencies before choosing the best fit for your industry and business. Many specialise in a specific area, so if your business is very niche, then you may wish to look for an agency with experience in that sector.

Zero-hours contract
Zero-hour contracts are also known as casual contracts. As an employer, you do not guarantee any hours of work. Instead, you offer the work when it arises. However, the person has the right to either accept or decline the work. Zero-hours contract workers must be paid at least National Minimum Wage and are entitled to holiday leave, rest breaks and other statutory employment rights. Find out more here.

Freelancers, consultants and contractors
These temporary staff are either self-employed or part of other companies. They are usually responsible for paying their own tax and National Insurance contributions. Freelancers, consultants and contractors may not have the same rights as workers hired under an employment contract. However, as an employer, you are still responsible for their health and safety. Find out more here.

Insurance
If you plan to take on temporary staff, then you will also be legally required to have employer’s liability insurance. This protects you against compensation claims arising from illness or injury suffered by an employee during the course of their work. Failure to take out employers’ liability insurance could mean you receive a fine of up to £2,500 per day that you are uninsured.

Strategic planning
Often businesses end up employing temporary staff when they have not planned adequately and suddenly need extra employees to cover either a rise in demand or an unexpected event, such as illness of a key employee.

Strategic planning of staffing levels in conjunction with your business plan and key performance indicators mean that you can predict the need for additional employees in advance and also put processes in place to cover for those unexpected challenges.

This allows you as a business owner to make a considered decision about how to accommodate this need, preventing you from making rash decisions when faced with a staff shortage.

Working with a business consultant offers objective strategic planning support, which will mean that resources are concentrated constructively, energies are focused creatively, and the outcome is fully profitable over the long term. Contact us to find out how we can help you.

Further information
If you found this information useful you may also want to check out the following:

5 key challenges facing small business owners
Case Study: How we helped a business reward its staff through employee benefits
Avoid the mad march rush – get a head start on your tax planning

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