Six considerations when employing seasonal staff

For employees, the festive season means a few days rest and time well spent with loved ones. For employers however, it can mean longer hours, busier days, and staffing headaches.

When it comes to staffing headaches, employers often turn to hiring new seasonal staff. If you’re thinking of taking on seasonal staff, make sure you’ve considered the following…

1) Are you providing a written statement of key terms?

Whether an employee is full-time or temporary, you need to provide a written statement detailing the terms and conditions of employment. In it, clearly state the termination date or the specific purpose your seasonal staff have been hired for.

The Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 (the Act) requires you to provide all employees with a statement of 5 core terms of employment within five days of employment commencing.

Failure to comply with the requirement to provide a five-day statement attracts criminal liability.

2) No zero-hours contracts

The Act also prohibits the use of zero-hour contracts. This ban may affect hospitality sector employers who previously relied on zero-hours type contracts to fill positions during busy seasonal periods.

Before the Act came into effect, zero-hour contracts were more common. An employee on a zero-hours contract may have been unaware of the hours they would receive in a given week, meaning they had to effectively be ‘on-call’ at all times.

That’s all changed. Now, employers need to specify the hours per day and week they need their employees to be available. And for employers in every sector, that means no more zero-hours contracts.

3) The use of a waiver clause

It’s possible to agree with employees that the unfair dismissals legislation will not apply in certain specific circumstances. Agreeing upon this with your seasonal staff is an important step. Including a ‘waiver clause’ in your contract is how you do it.

A waiver clause confirms that the contract ends when the purpose of the employment no longer exists or the fixed term expires. By including this clause, employees will be excluded from taking claims under the Unfair Dismissals Acts, 1977-2015.

4) Seasonal staff will still need time to adapt

No short-term employee is going to know your business practices from the word go. However, one way of ensuring they get the best possible start is to provide an induction. An induction will also allow you to outline what you expect of them and your business standards.

Once your seasonal staff begin work, give them time to adapt and your working relationship should flourish.

5) Are you informing seasonal staff about permanent vacancies?

If not, the Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Act 2003 states you must.

If relevant vacancies open up during their employment, let seasonal staff know. Advertise the roles internally on your intranet or your noticeboard. That way, seasonal staff have a fair opportunity to apply for permanent positions.

6) Treat seasonal staff the same as full-time staff

The Protection of Employees (Fixed-Term Work) Act 2003 notes that temporary and full-time employees working in comparable roles need to be treated alike. Paying seasonal and full-time staff differently is where employers commonly fall foul of this law.

That doesn’t need to be the case. Seasonal and full-time employees who carry out the same work should be paid the same. The same goes for rights such as maternity leave, annual leave, and provision of wage slips.

Employment equality legislation, which has no minimum service requirement, also protects temporary employees. Treating a temporary employee differently based on any of the nine protected grounds could lead to an expensive discrimination claim.

The 9 grounds for discrimination in Ireland include:

  • Gender
  • Civil status
  • Family status
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religious belief
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Race (includes colour, nationality or ethnic or national origins)
  • Membership of the Traveller community

So, if you’re taking on extra staff to cope with the festive season, consider what you’ve learnt in this blog.

And, for help on the go during your busy periods, discover the benefits of BrightHR. Available as an app and online, BrightHR software helps employers manage everything from shifts and rotas to annual leave.

Seasonal staffing advice from HR consultants

For further advice on seasonal staffing, speak to one of our HR consultants now on 01 886 0350 or request a callback here.

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Nora Cashe

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Nóra studied Law in Griffith College Dublin and qualified as a Barrister in 2008, practising in the area of Criminal law. She is also member of the Irish Employment Law Association.

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Nóra is a member of the Irish Employment Law Association and engages with the WRC Adjudication Service as part of their stakeholder engagement forum.

Deiric McCann

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David Begg

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