How to manage business peaks and troughs by employing seasonal workers.

Many businesses encounter peaks and troughs throughout the year, but for businesses that are particularly season-dependent, this poses a real challenge.

In order to remain flexible and meet business demand; temporary, seasonal workers offer a great solution.

In this blog we take a look at:

● The benefits of using seasonal workers
● Your legal obligations as an employer
● The process for hiring seasonal workers

The benefits of hiring seasonal workers
In the UK we typically encounter seasonal workers in the tourism, hospitality, construction, and agricultural industries – mostly through the summer months, but it’s not uncommon to see seasonal workers in the lead-up to Christmas too.

It’s often assumed that seasonal workers are an unskilled and lower-paid alternative to permanent employees, however, the real truth is far from that.

There are huge benefits to hiring seasonal employees, here are just a few:

Meeting business demand and customer expectations – seasonal employees provide you with the flexibility to increase the size of your team during peak trading periods so that you continue to offer your clients the service they expect.

Improve morale for permanent team – there’s no point expecting your permanent employees, to start working double shifts and deferring their annual leave. A better reward for their efforts is to ensure they can take a well-deserved break, by ensuring you have sufficient cover for the upturn in business.

Spread the risk – by using fixed-term contracts, you are not opening your business up to unnecessary redundancies later in the year.

Meet skills shortage – temporary workers can help to plug a particular skills shortage during busy periods.

Return year on year – many seasonal workers are happy to return to work for the same company year on year – which is a win-win!

Your legal obligations as an employer
A temporary, seasonal worker hired under a fixed-term contract is entitled to the same working conditions and the same legal rights as their permanently employed equivalent, which includes working hours, pay, annual leave and rest breaks.

As an employer your main legal obligations are to:

  • Ensure every employee has the right to work in the UK
  • Provide a Contract of Employment by the employees’ start date
  • Pay (at least) the national minimum wage
  • Obtain written authorisation from the employee that tax and National Insurance deductions can be taken at source
  • Provide a pay slip (deducting tax and national insurance contributions if authorised)
  • Ensure that the employee’s working week does not exceed 48 hours OR ensure the employee has consented to opt-out of the 48-hour working week

A Contract of Employment for a seasonal worker will be largely the same as for that of a permanent employee. The differences are:

  • A fixed-term contract needs to stipulate the end date
  • The contract cannot be ended before the noted end date documented in the Contract of Employment (unless it contains a notice clause)
  • An agency is usually responsible for workers’ rights in relation to working time regulations and national minimum wage law

The process for hiring seasonal workers
The simplest way to hire seasonal workers is to speak with a specialist agency, that does all the background work for you. An agent will take on the responsibility for advertising the posts to be filled and carry out initial checks (such as the right to work in the UK), conduct interviews and any skills tests needed. In many cases, they will also cover additional administrative duties too such as insurance and payroll activities. Aside from all of these benefits, staffing agencies have access to large pools of potential candidates, who have already gone through the various screening tests, and are often available at very short notice.

If you decide to go it alone, and conduct the hiring process yourself, then this should run in a similar way to your usual recruitment process.

How can Cluer HR help?
If you have any questions about your legal obligations regarding the hiring of seasonal workers or would like help with your Contracts of Employment, please get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to talk through your specific case.


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