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Your Summer Staffing Questions Answered!

If your organisation is one of those that is bracing itself for a busy summer season, you may be making plans to ensure you are adequately staffed. To help busy employers we have put together some frequently asked questions when it comes to summer staffing.

1. Can I just recruit someone for the summer season?

Yes, employers can recruit employees for a set period by using a fixed term contract. Kingfisher* can provide an offer letter and a fixed term contract for you to use in your business.

It’s important to remember that whilst a fixed term contract will have an end date stated in it, not continuing with the employee’s employment past that date will still count in law as a dismissal. Because of this, we always advise employers to contact us in good time if they are planning on ending the employment as originally intended. Whilst in most cases ending a fixed term contract is a quick and straightforward process, it’s important to ensure there aren’t any risks in your particular case, as there are some claims that even employees with short service can bring.

2. I know I’ll need some additional staff, but the work levels fluctuate and I’m not sure what hours I’ll need them to work. What can I do?

You could employ your additional employees on zero-hours contracts as they will offer you the most flexibility. Unlike other types of employment contracts, you will only need to offer work to zero-hours employees if you have work available. There is also the advantage that there are no fixed hours enabling you to match staffing levels with demand.

If you do wish to employ zero-hours employees, please bear in mind that they do have employment rights such as the right to paid holiday and that you can’t require them to work exclusively for you.

If you would like further information about zero-hours contracts or a contract for use in your organisation, please contact Kingfisher.

3. I’ve just recruited a student to work in the school holidays are there any restrictions on the hours they can work?

Yes, there are. From an employment law perspective, the rules will depend on the age of the student and whether in law they are classed as an adult worker, a young worker or a child.

Under the Working Time Regulations:

  • If the student is over 18, for example they are a university student, they will be an adult worker and can be treated in the same way as other adult employees when it comes to working time.
  • If the student is 15 -17 years old and has reached the minimum school leaving age they will be classed as a young worker. This means there are greater restrictions on when they can work and for how long. They also have a more generous entitlement to rest and rest breaks than adult workers.

Workers below the age of young workers are child workers. As you would expect, there are strict rules regarding employing children at all and these can vary between local authorities.

If you require detailed information on the rules regarding working time for adult workers or young workers, please contact Kingfisher as we are happy to help.

4. My existing staff are going to be working overtime during the busy summer period how many hours a week can they work?

For most adult employees their weekly working time should not exceed 48 hours a week on average. This average is usually calculated over a 17-week reference period. However, adult employees can voluntarily opt-out of the limit on weekly working time if they wish to work longer hours by signing an opt-out agreement.

If an adult employee does opt-out, you still need to be mindful of the number of hours they are working as you cannot require them to work excessively long hours. In most cases, employees who have opted-out will still be entitled to the minimum rest periods and rest breaks required by the Working Time Regulations.

For further information regarding the Working Time Regulations, or an opt-out agreement for use in your organisation please contact Kingfisher.

5. If my employees regularly work voluntary overtime could this affect their holiday pay?

Yes. If employees regularly work voluntary overtime, pay for this needs to be included in the calculation of holiday pay for the first 20 days of holiday. This has been confirmed by a recent decision in Flowers v East of England Ambulance Trust. The Court of Appeal held that voluntary overtime should  be taken into account when calculating holiday pay if it is sufficiently regular and settled for payments made in respect of it to amount to ‘normal’ remuneration.

If you are unsure whether voluntary overtime should be taken into account in your case or you would like further information on calculating holiday pay, please contact Kingfisher.

6. If I employ an additional member of staff to cover the busy period and they are bad at the job can I just sack them?

As employee’s who have under two years’ service don’t have the right to claim ordinary unfair dismissal  it can be quicker and more straightforward to dismiss them than would usually be the case. However, you shouldn’t dismiss a short serving employee without seeking advice from Kingfisher on the facts of your case first. This is because there are a number of claims short serving employees can bring such as  dismissal for an automatically unfair reason, discrimination or harassment.

If you have an employment law matter you would like assistance with, please do not hesitate to contact Kingfisher as we are happy to help.

*Kingfisher refers to Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd