Xmas temps

By: Annabel Kaye

Date: 26 November 2009

We are moving towards the time of year when many people take on Christmas temps (or are taken on as temps), so we thought we would give you some pointers on the legal side of temp work.

As we enter the time of year when many people take on extra help for Christmas, use our top tips to help you get legal side of employing temps right:

  1. Temps can be employed by an agency or directly by the organisation that uses them. If you are not sure who the employer is, it is usually the person who pays the temp their wages.
  2. The end client can be liable for discrimination claims even if an agency is the employer, since temps can be an employee of the agency AND a worker for the client at the same time. These rights do not require any particular length of service.
  3. Temps accrue rights in line with service, just like any other UK employee, which means they are building up rights to National Minimum Wage (NMW) and statutory holiday from day one.
  4. Temps are entitled to statutory sick pay (SSP) provided they pay national insurance.
  5. Temps with more than four weeks’ service are entitled to statutory notice of one week.
  6. It is possible to contract with temps on a weekly basis, so that you give notice each Monday to terminate each Friday (and thus there is no need to give notice at the end of the temporary assignment). If you want to do this, take advice.
  7. After one month's service, temps have the right to a written statement of particulars of employment, and their temporary status should be set out clearly in that document. Theoretically that statement should be issued no later than two months after the start date, but it is always a good idea to get this document out as early as possible.
  8. If you make a mini fixed-term contract and then change your mind, you may be liable to pay the balance of the term. Be careful when recruiting temps that you do not contract for more time than you mean to.
  9. Continuous service has a complex set of rules. For example: if you recruit a temp for, say, four weeks, then another four weeks with a gap in between you can find that the week in between does not ‘count’ for continuity but does not break it either.
  10. Temps with less than one year's continuous service do not have unfair dismissal rights but they do have a full set of discrimination rights. Whilst there is currently government consultation on giving temporary workers more rights, no changes have yet been made and temps have no specific right to benefit from the same terms and conditions as their permanent colleagues.

Annabel Kaye is Managing Director of Irenicon Ltd, a specialist employment law consultancy. 

Tel: 08452 303050  Fax: 08452 303060 

Website : www.irenicon.co.uk

You can follow Annabel on twitter – http://twitter.com/AnnabelKaye and check our regular articles and news throughout the autumn on our blog site - http://irenicon.wordpress.com/

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