Hiring Temporary Staff

By Amanda Beattie
13 Nov 2019

Black Friday and its millennial cousin—Cyber Monday—have come and gone. But, with Christmas around the corner, hiring temporary staff may be the only option to keep your business fully functional.

But what happens if there’s a HR hiccup? Handling disciplinaries, grievances, or paperwork at peak times could tip your business over the edge.

Here’s everything you need to consider before hiring provisional employees during the festive period:

Hiring temporary staff

What your business needs

First, the non-technical bit.

You need to decide exactly what it is your business needs. Do you need an extra pair of hands in the warehouse? Some client-facing staff to handle the influx of customers? More people answering the phones?

Whatever it is you need, make sure you detail it and find out how many new employees you need.

If there are any non-temporary roles that you need to fill, or talent gaps, this IS a great time to occupy them. Especially because the interim staff could become permanent, dependant on their contract type.

How to recruit

The most efficient and effective way of doing this is by working with an agency. This saves you a good chunk of the work, and ensures quality candidates.

Whether you decide to do it yourself or through an agency, you should write a temporary job description. You should already know when you need by this point, so all you need to do is list the tasks the individual is expected to perform.

Also, remember to outline the duration of their employment. This will stop any confusion or disputes arising when their contract comes to an end.


You may be tempted to rush your provisional employees through training so they can get to work quicker. In reality, you’re best to onboard them as if they were full-time members of staff.

Without a thorough understanding of the business, how it operates, and how they should perform their role, they can’t be expected to work effectively.

A good way to get them involved both quickly and with a full understanding is to shadow a current employee.

Different contract types

Now, the technical bit.

It may seem obvious, but the employment contract should make it clear that the position is temporary. Typically, these types of contracts need to be more flexible. Workers might be needed to come into work on short notice, for example. If this is the case, make it clear from the outset.

Before hiring any temporary staff you should have a good understanding of their contract type. The two main types you’ll experience when hiring are:

  • Agency workers
  • Fixed term

Agency worker

If you hire an agency worker, you need to be aware of their rights.

They receive paid annual leave, rest breaks, standard health & safety at work protections, and the National Minimum Wage. They also are protected from unlawful wage deduction and discrimination.

As of April 2020, you’ll need to provide them with a ‘key facts’ document. This should include:

  • The type of contract they are employed under
  • The expected minimum rate of pay and how they’ll be paid
  • Whether fees will be deducted if paid through an intermediary
  • An estimate setting out their take-home pay

Fixed-term contract

This type of employment contract is simpler. It states that the individual has a contract that ends on a specific date or on the completion of a specific project.

Fixed-term staff must get:

  • The same pay and conditions as permanent staff
  • The same or equivalent benefits package
  • Protection against redundancy or dismissal
  • Information about permanent job vacancies within the organisation

You don’t have to give the individual any notice when the contract comes to an end. This should be made clear in their contract.

When does a temp worker become permanent?

An employee on a fixed term contract for four years or more may automatically become a permanent employee. After four years you must demonstrate a good business reason not to consider the individual a permanent employee.

There’s no obligation for you to offer an agency worker a permanent place at the organisation, even if they’ve been with you on a long-term placement. You should always keep the worker up-to-date with any vacancies, through whatever means you choose. You shouldn’t show a preference towards non-agency workers.

Expert support

If you have any questions about hiring temporary staff, or have a HR issue caused by Black Friday madness, speak to a Croner expert on 01455 858 132.

About the Author

Amanda Beattie

Amanda represents corporate clients and large public bodies, including complex discrimination and whistleblowing claims. Amanda also drafts and delivers bespoke training regarding all aspects of employment law, including ‘mock tribunal’ events; in addition she also frequently drafts employment law articles for various publications for Croner and their clients.

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