Hiring extra help for summer – An Employer’s Guide

With many of us looking forward to jetting off to the sun and sand, your business may be left short staffed over summer. It could also be that this is your busy period.

So what are the options open to you?

1  Increased overtime

You can only make employees work overtime if their Contract of Employment clearly specifies this. Interestingly, employers are under no legal duty to pay workers for overtime, but the employer must ensure that the employee’s average pay for all the hours they have worked does not dip below the relevant minimum wage. If the employee is paid overtime, this should be clearly set out in the Contract of Employment, stating overtime rates of pay and how these are calculated.

2  Fixed-term contracts

If you hire someone to cover just the particularly busy summer period, you need to make it clear that from the start, the position is temporary and draft the fixed term contract so that the employment relationship terminates on a specific date or on a specific act occurring. Our Employment Law Advisers can help you with this.

Remember, fixed-term employees have the right to not be treated less favourably than comparable permanent employees.

3  Agency workers

Agency workers can also help a business respond to a seasonal rush. Possibly the most attractive element is that there are fewer obligations than employing a permanent member of staff. An agency worker is employed by a recruitment or employment agency. You pay the agency who pays the worker. It is the agency who has the responsibility to pay the worker and ensure that the agency worker receives their rights.

However they can be an expensive option as you need to pay agency fees and commission. You also need to remember that the law provides agency workers with rights from their first day of work on an assignment and after 12 weeks in the same job.

4  Zero hours contracts

Hiring people on zero hours contracts gives employers access to a pool of people to respond quickly to fluctuations in demand. The general premise is that workers have no guaranteed hours and they are only paid for the work they actually carry out.

Do not assume they have no rights! It’s important to establish their employment status and what they are legally entitled to. In most cases, the nature of zero hours means that the individual will be considered a “worker”, therefore they have the right to be paid the National Minimum Wage/National Living Wage, 28 days of annual leave including bank holidays (pro rated according to how much they work) and not to be discriminated against on basis of age, disability, race, etc.

5  Younger workers

You may decide to hire a young worker over the summer months. There are specific rules in place for those over the compulsory school age, but still under the age of 18, including limits to the types of work they can do, working time and night work.

If you are employing a university student, you also need to be aware of their minimum wage entitlement, visas for those outside the EEA and their employment rights.

Want to know more?

You may also be interested to learn how to deal with hot weather (it does happen!) and how to manage annual leave requests this summer.