Guidance for hiring on a fixed-term contract in the UK

Many firms decide to hire on a fixed term contract to cope with the demands of busy periods such as summer or Christmas. Ensure you are aware of the rights of these employees by consulting our guidelines below.

Employee or worker?

Firstly, it’s important to distinguish the legal status of ‘employee’ and ‘worker’. An employee has more benefits than a worker. A few examples of these are:

–   Written terms and conditions of employment

–   Statutory minimum notice period before termination of employment

–   Protection against unfair dismissal

The rights below are shared by both employees AND workers.

–   The right to be paid at least the national minimum wage

–   Rights against unlawful discrimination

–   Rest breaks and annual paid leave

So, when it comes to a seasonal contract, are we dealing with an employee or a worker? By definition, an employee is someone who works for a business the terms of a contract, which can be written, oral or implied. A worker can be any person that works for the business without being self-employed. This includes agency workers, casual workers and even freelancers and consultants.

Remember, even if an individual is not a permanent member of staff, it does not mean that they are not to be treated as employees. They should receive the same benefits that all employees are entitled to.

Rights of a Fixed Term Employee

These are contracts which end on a specific date or upon completion of a specific project. They are commonly found in hospitality and retail sectors.

As mentioned earlier, fixed-term employees should have the same rights as those in permanent positions. They should not be treated differently unless there is a legitimate business reason to do so. E.g. failing to offer a company car as the cost would be too high for a short period of time.

Employers should ensure that those on fixed term contract receive:

–   The same benefits package as permanent employees

–   The same pay and conditions as permanent staff

–   Protection against redundancy or dismissal.

Any individual who has worked continuously for the same employer for over 2 years has the same redundancy rights are permanent staff.

If your business regularly takes on staff for seasonal jobs, make sure you get it right! For further advice, don’t hesitate to contact us.

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