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Jumping the hurdle of the casual worker

Published 11 May 2012

Employment solicitor Nickie Harding on what you need to be aware of if you are looking to hire casual workers this summer

With the start of the Olympic Games becoming ever-closer, many businesses are looking to engage casual workers to meet the growing demands they face as a result. In particular, numerous deals are being offered to IT suppliers. It is routine for casual workers to be used in industries where the work is seasonal or varies from week-to-week and month-to-month. As organisations in all manner of different sectors muster up a special boost for the Olympics, their demand for supporting technology and, in turn, the staff to operate and oversee it, increases.

This is consequently why many employers are turning to casual workers in the run up to, and during, the Olympics. Temporary workers can be engaged through the use of third party agencies. However, since the introduction of the 2011 Agency Workers Regulations, which gave certain basic rights to agency workers after 12 weeks service, the use of casual workers for IT requirements has become increasingly popular, as the employer is in more control and bypasses both red tape and extra fees.

Trusted workers

A zero hours contract is the most commonly used way of making sure that the company only pays for the work actually carried out. Organisations may have a bank of short-term staff who can be called upon when demand means that extra IT support is required. This allows trusted workers to do the job and gives the company the flexibility to adapt its resources accordingly.

Another method is to use what is sometimes referred to as an umbrella contract, which can be offered where the individual workers are engaged on a progressive series of individual contracts, but a master contract remains in place when there is no need to use them.

The variable nature of casual work can create problems when it comes to determining precisely who will do what and when, versus the demand for their capacity. Holidays also present difficulties, as not knowing the working hours available in advance means it is tricky to work out holiday entitlement. However, if you use an umbrella contract system, casual workers will be entitled to holiday days even when they are not working, because it falls under the master contract.

But avoid the pitfalls!

The pitfalls can include a lack of loyalty or commitment to your business, inexperience and inadequate knowledge. Imagine how this looks to your clients. The use of casual workers should be monitored regularly to ensure that they are being utilised and managed effectively. If you use casual workers for longer than initially envisaged or you find some good ones that you want to keep on your books, assess whether to offer them an extended fixed term or permanent contract in return for more commitment from the worker.

Terminating the contract of a casual worker can also be tricky. Make sure that you are clear about the reasons for terminating the arrangement and that you abide by the termination provisions agreed when you took them on.

Nickie Hardy

0844 474 3377

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