It’s that time of year again, major employers like retailer John Lewis have already announced plans to recruit 3,500 temporary staff in the run-up to Christmas.

Last year Royal Mail recruited over 19,000 extra staff across the country to cope with the rush as did Amazon who recruited around 19,000 extra staff for their warehousing and distribution operations.

Many more retailers and logistics and distribution companies up and down the UK will be gearing up for the seasonal mayhem along with manufacturing companies, hotels and restaurants.
And last but not least, there’s all the temporary Santa’s required for Grotto’s and Winterland experiences around the country, (there’s an elf’s job going in Burton-on-Trent if anyone is interested!).

For larger companies the recruitment and management of significant numbers of temp staff may run like clockwork, but for smaller businesses with more limited resources an influx of temp staff can cause payroll and logistical nightmares.

Employing temp staff

Many temp staff are hired on fixed term contracts. These contracts have set start and end dates or the contract period could be related to the start and finish of a particular task.

Temporary workers on a fixed term contract are entitled to the same working conditions as permanent employees after 12 weeks in the job. This means that they should receive the same pay, holidays, rest periods and working hours as full-time staff employed by the company.

Another option is zero hour contracts or casual contracts. Zero hour contracts are usually for ‘piece work’ or ‘on call’ work.

This means:

  • Workers are on call to work as and when you need them.
  • You don’t have to give them work.
  • But they don’t have to do work for you when asked.

Zero hour workers are entitled to statutory annual leave and at least the National Minimum Wage.

Agency staff

Many businesses will turn to staffing agencies this Christmas to manage temp staffing logistics.

Agency supplied staff are classed as “workers” rather than as employees. Agencies take on the day-to-day management of recruitment and payments including National Insurance and Sick Pay. It’s also down to the agency to make sure that Working Time Regulations are complied with and that at least the National Minimum Wage is being paid.

Temporary staff entitlements

Whether directly employed or agency staff, workers are entitled to:

  • Paid minimum annual leave of 28 days (which can include bank holidays as part of the statutory leave) (after 12 weeks of working).
  • Adult workers are entitled to eleven hours consecutive rest per day and a minimum 20 minute rest break if their working day is longer than six hours (after 12 weeks).
  • Work no more than 48 hours a week which applies to adults after 12 weeks of working (although workers can choose to opt out of this).
  • The National Minimum Wage which is currently £7.20 per hour for adults over the age of 25.
  • No unlawful deductions from wages
  • Discrimination rights under the Equality Act 2010
  • Health and safety at work (which remains the responsibility of the site owner/employer whether directly or indirectly employed).
  • Access to facilities available to permanent staff including staff canteens, childcare and transport.

(These entitlements apply to workers in England check Citizens Advice for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland)

Goodbye, Adiós, Do widzenia

Whilst most employers generally have a good experience with temp staff,  it may be worth bearing the following research in mind.

A recent Kellogg School of Management Report discovered that “anticipatory regret” can make people think cheating is acceptable—especially near the end of a job or task.

“We tend to want to squeeze the last drop of productivity we can, particularly from part-time workers who aren’t coming back … but I think that’s a mistake.”

Instead, towards the end of the contract or task try to give something back. “If you’ve got a two-week job, consider letting people go home at one o’clock on the last day instead of keeping them until 5 p.m.”

“When you give them a little bonus like that, they’re less likely to try and take some other kind of bonus for themselves on the way out.”

J. Keith Murnighan was Distinguished Professor of Risk Management at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.

How we can help

The uAttend cloud-based time and attendance system provides a cost-effective and simple way to manage temporary workers (and permanent staff). Using biometric fingerprint clocking in terminals means that staff can’t clock each other in or out and it’s quick to induct new workers onto the system (and archive them once they’ve stopped working for you). Our flexible pricing plans mean you can scale up or down as staffing levels fluctuate.

In uAttend you can have multi-level timecard sign-offs so that workers can ‘agree’ with the hours they’ve worked and sign them off  before they’re signed off for payroll by managers or supervisors.

We also have a number of staffing agencies using uAttend very successfully to monitor their temp staff on customer sites. With uAttend both the agencies and their customers know that the payroll and other data being gathered is accurate and available instantly.

The Chronologic Workforce Management System is able to handle more complex shifts and rotas as well as producing Working Time Regulation and other reports. The system can be used with biometric fingerprint, hand scanning and facial recognition clocking in terminals to prevent workers clocking each other in and out.

Both systems help to ensure safety on-site through accurate tracking of who’s clocked in for fire roll call should an emergency arise.

To find out more about how we can take some of the stress out of the run-up to Christmas please get in touch.

Employees Are More Likely to Cheat on Their Way out the Door – Kellogg Report
Citizens Advice – UK Workers basic rights at work
GOV.UK – Employing people

For more information about our solutions and products call 01761 410015 or email