Fixed-term contracts are contracts of employment to cover a fixed period or task; for example, the summer period only. These can be useful to meet seasonal demand, providing certainty and helping to manage expectations on both sides with a clear end date.
Using an employment agency to recruit and supply seasonal workers can significantly reduce the administrative burden of finding and contracting appropriate staff. However, as well as considering the agency costs, employers should be mindful that agency workers are legally entitled to access the same collective facilities and job vacancies as permanent employees from day one, and the same basic working and employment conditions (including pay) after 12 weeks.
Zero-hours contracts are exactly as the name suggests – there is no obligation on the company to offer, or the individual to accept, any work. These contracts can offer great flexibility to both sides and allow employers to deal with fluctuating demand week to week.
Zero-hours contracts have been criticised by the media and MPs for allowing organisations to get around employment legislation. Employers should be wary of arguments that individuals on zero-hours contracts may be entitled to employment rights as set out below.
For some employers, the extra labour required may simply be covered by the existing workforce through increasing overtime and offering weekend and evening shifts. Employers may wish to offer increased overtime rates to incentivise current employees to help out with the demand.
Whatever arrangements are put in place, employers should also consider:
Tabytha Cunningham is associate solicitor at Coffin Mew
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