Don’t forget that seasonal workers need written employment terms too

10.06.2024
Kelly Hanley
Human Resources, Hospitality and Leisure
Kelly Hanley, HR Adviser for Lovewell Blake

Providing written terms and conditions - including to seasonal staff - is not just a legal obligation, but hugely beneficial, says Kelly Hanley of Lovewell Blake

Kelly Hanley, HR Adviser for Lovewell Blake

With the summer holiday season upon us, many businesses in the tourism, leisure and hospitality sector will be boosting their workforce to cope with the increased demand from customers, with seasonal and temporary workers taking much of the extra strain.

For employers, this is an excellent and flexible way of dealing with the seasonal fluctuation in business.  But because these workers will only be working for a finite period of time, there can be a temptation to treat them differently from more permanent staff, right down to omitting to give them a written statement of particulars detailing key terms and conditions.

This is especially true in smaller businesses (which tend to make up the bulk of employers in this sector), which do not enjoy the luxury of an in-house HR department.

But not giving every individual – even temporary and seasonal workers – a written statement of terms and conditions of employment is a big mistake, and one which could land employers in a whole lot of trouble. 

First of all, it is a legal requirement to provide every worker/employee with a written statement of employment particulars, of which the ‘principal statement’ detailing the main terms and conditions of employment must be provided from the first day of their employment.  This is a legally binding agreement that contains prescribed information and outlines the main terms and conditions between employer and worker/employee.

An employment contract is a much wider document, which contains enhanced terms and conditions of employment, and offers businesses greater flexibility and protection.  It is important for this document to be carefully drafted so that the employment status (worker vs employee) and relationship with the individual is clearly defined and reflects what happens in practice.

Certain aspects of employment contracts are governed by UK law, such as minimum wage, working time regulations, and discrimination rules.  Other legislation provides a framework for legal rights and obligations, such as the Employment Rights Act 1996, which covers areas such as unfair dismissal, redundancy pay and maternity rights, and the Equality Act 2010, which protects against discrimination in the workplace.

Understanding these legal requirements is essential to ensure compliance and avoid potential legal consequences.

But it’s not just about meeting your legal obligations: a well-drafted employment contract can help protect your business by setting clear boundaries and expectations for your employees.  It can deter potential conflicts and disputes by ensuring that both parties are on the same page about the terms of employment.

For employers, the contract can help protect their business interests, with provisions to protect confidential business information, intellectual property rights and client relationships, as well as providing a mechanism for addressing performance issues, enforcing disciplinary procedures, and if necessary terminating the employment in a way that complies with UK law.

For employees, it ensures that they are treated fairly and in accordance with the law, safeguarding their rights to fair pay, safe working conditions, and protection from discrimination or harassment.  It also provides a clear outline of their job responsibilities and expectations, reducing the risk of disputes over job performance.

To ensure legal clarity and comprehensive protection, an employment contract should include several key components such as:

  • Job information: job title, job description, location of work
  • Remuneration: salary or wages, bonuses and other benefits
  • Working hours: standard hours, overtime policies, break allowances
  • Termination terms: details about notice periods and grounds for dismissal
  • Confidentiality and non-disclosure: provisions to protect sensitive business information
  • Grievance and disciplinary: the process for raising issues or complaints, and how disciplinary matters will be handled
  • Leave entitlement: annual leave, sick leave, maternity and paternity leave

Even for seasonal and temporary workers, providing a clear, well-written contract on day one is an absolute must.  By ensuring all the relevant components are included, both employers and employees/workers can foster a transparent, respectful and legally compliant working relationship – and that is the best way to ensure the maximum benefit to your business form all staff.

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