Employment Law Vs. Temporary Christmas Jobs

The job market goes into overdrive in the run up to Christmas. With an increased pressure on both the retail and hospitality industries, there are a ream of seasonal jobs available to employees looking for extra work. It may be a great time to earn some extra Christmas money, but remember to be mindful of Employment Law and your employee rights when taking a temporary Christmas position. Arlingsworth Solicitors have put together this short guide to some of the areas which may cause you issue over this festive period:

Employment Law Vs. Temporary Christmas Jobs

The UK National Minimum Wage applies to most workers, even to temporary and seasonal employees. In the UK, the National Minimum Wage for workers aged 21 and over is now £6.70 per hour. For 18 to 20 year olds it is now £5.30, as of October 2015. Workers aged between 16 and 17 are entitled to £3.87. The rate for apprentices under the age of 19 is now £3.30. You need to make sure your temporary employer is paying you the National Minimum Wage, as it is illegal not to meet these standards.

Do bear in mind that there are types of workers who are exempt from the minimum wage. These are:

  • Family members working for a family-run business
  • Certain kinds of trainees on government-funded schemes
  • Students in higher education work placements (that last up to a maximum of one year)
  • Members of the armed forces
  • and self-employed individuals.

Zero Hour Contracts.

You may have heard of Zero Hour contracts before, as they have received a lot of press in recent years. Zero Hour contracts are used in situations where there is a need for temporary or changeable staff levels. For example, an events venue may need extra waiting staff to cater for a last-minute event, something that is quite common during the festive season.

What a Zero Hour contract usually means is that there is no obligation for employers to offer out work, nor for employees to accept it. In the past, this format has resulted in the exploitation of employees, as they can be denied work at any time and for any reason. If an employee is unable to work a shift or staff an event due to prior engagements, the employer may decide not to offer further shifts, which can result in a prolonged period of no work.

The good news is that new laws have been passed in 2015 prohibiting the right to exclusivity, which means an employee is not tied to just one employer, or one Zero Hour contract. It is worthwhile making sure you understand the implications of these contracts, as they are very common at Christmas time.

Christmas Overtime.

At such a busy time of year, temporary employers may ask you to work long and often unsociable hours, especially in the hospitality and retail industries. You may be more than happy to do this, however if you are not, UK Working Time Regulations dictate that an employee should not work more than 48 hours a week, taken on an average over seven weeks. The regulations also entitle employees to:

    • A minimum period of 11 hours uninterrupted rest per day between finishing your shift and starting the next day. If aged 15-18, you are entitled to a minimum daily break of 12 hours.
    • 24 hours uninterrupted rest within a seven day period. 15-18 year olds are entitled to 48 hours. Or, at the employer’s choice, 48 consecutive hours within a 14 day period.
    • 20 minutes of break for every 6 hour long shift, or 30 minutes if you are aged 15-18 years and you work more a 4.5 hour long shift.

It is your right to opt out of these regulations at any time.

We trust this guide has been useful to you, and we wish you luck over the festive season with any new positions. If at any point you need advice on an employment issue, or your treatment in your temporary workplace, then we are on hand to provide expert advice. Call us in Brighton on 01273 696 962, or in London on 0203 358 0058. Or, you can contact us here.

We also have a 24-hour number that you can call on weekends or outside office hours. Call us on 07502 333 636.