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How can I hire to deal with seasonal fluctuations?

How can I hire to deal with seasonal fluctuations?

The retail sector is a legendary hirer of temporary staff at Christmas, the period which can make or break its whole year. But this isn't the only sector that needs temporary staff at Christmas; hotels, airlines, sales promotions companies, royal mail are just some that look for extra staff. So are you looking to hire in the big Christmas countdown?

Xmas or winter
If you're planning to take on casual workers to boost your headcount this winter, you need to get results quickly and ensure everything runs smoothly and, more importantly, legally!

Obviously, temporary workers may be casual and short term, but there is still plenty of legislation you need to be aware of in hiring them.

Temporary staff have legal rights and you have legal obligations to them, so make sure all casual staff are aware of their rights as well as the duties, hours and expected length of their employment.

National minimum wages
In effect, for their term of work, temporary workers are viewed the same as permanent staff. They have the same rights to parental leave and benefits, pensions and other employee benefits, but all on a pro rata basis.

Naturally, this also applies to the National Minimum Wage which means you can only pay lower wages than permanent staff where there is a legal, justifiable reason based upon experience or where their pay is performance-related.

Other entitlements
Sharing permanent rights extends to paid holiday leave on a pro rata basis. NB There are ratios for this but taking a typical example, a temporary worker employed for three months and working two days a week would be entitled to 9.6 days of paid leave.

Needless to say, you can negotiate to offer extra pay in lieu of holidays, or any other arrangements providing both parties understand and agree.

There is also the matter of statutory sick pay. However, there are qualifications, for example, temporary staff must be ill for at least four consecutive days including weekends and bank holidays.

Letting go
Your temporary staff are on a short-term contract and if anybody doesn't perform, you can simply wait until their term is up and wave goodbye. If they need to be dismissed before even this short period, however, then the same procedures apply as for permanent staff.

This means going through recognised disciplinary stages, such as giving official warnings verbally and in writing before dismissing anyone.

Maintaining a good temporary worker policy is good for your company, so that your company can act quickly and have the confidence of former temporary workers who may return the next time you need them.

Long term solution
Hiring staff for a short cover period has strong financial attractions, but there is also another benefit. In any draft of temporary people, you may find someone who has the potential to work in your company long term.

You have effectively gained a chance to assess people in a trial period in your company. Many top performers have joined companies in such a way – doing valuable work, and letting you see how they perform is a truer reflection of their potential than any number of interviews.

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