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Do you employ casual or seasonal workers?

Do you employ casual or seasonal workers?

Employment Law Partner at Burnetts, Nigel Crebbin, looks at the sometimes tricky question of employment status for casual workers.

As with any popular tourist area, Cumbria is home to many casual and seasonal workers and hiring additional casual workers for the busy spring and summer seasons ahead is an annual task for businesses operating in the hospitality and catering sectors.

Sometimes businesses will take on staff on a short-term basis, for example over the summer months, but staffing needs can be as unpredictable as the Lake District weather. Many employers will have a bank of workers, who do not have fixed or guaranteed hours, but who can be called upon to work on an ‘as and when’ basis.

However, as recent cases involving businesses like Uber have shown, it can be difficult to assess what employment status and employment rights ‘zero hour’ workers like these have. 

As well as the categories of ‘employee’ and ‘self-employed’, employment law has a further category of ‘worker’ which is a sort of half-way house between employment and self-employment.

Non-employee workers do not have as many legal rights as employees, but do still have certain legal entitlements and protections:

Statutory Rights

Employee

Worker

Protection against unfair dismissal

Yes   

Right to redundancy pay

Yes   

Statutory notice entitlements

Yes  

Maternity leave

Yes  

Paternity leave

Yes  

Shared parental leave

Yes  

Fixed term employment protection

Yes  

National and minimum living wage

Yes Yes

Whistleblowing protection

Yes Yes

Working time rights (including paid holiday)

Yes Yes

Part-time workers' protection

Yes Yes

Protection from discrimination

Yes Yes

Right to be accompanied to disciplinary and grievance hearings

Yes Yes

Protection from unlawful deduction from wages

Yes Yes

To distinguish between an employee, a worker and a self-employed person can be a grey area, even for the courts, but it’s always a good idea for employers (big and small) who hire people on a casual basis to provide them with written contracts that reflect this arrangement. Burnetts can provide a simple casual worker’s contract at an affordable fixed fee, so that at least there’s clarity of the terms on which the person is taken on.

Please note that the law in this area is complex and the above article does not constitute legal advice.

About the author

Nigel Crebbin profile photo

Nigel Crebbin

Nigel is a Partner in the Employment Law & HR team at Burnetts.

Published: Tuesday 16th January 2018
Categorised: Employment, HR, Legal Services in Newcastle, Penrith, Small Business / New Business, Tourism & leisure, West Cumbria

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