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Nickie Harding

Hancocks Legal

Owner And Managing Director

Read more about Nickie Harding

Legal Insight: Pre-Olympic casual worker considerations


 With the start of the Olympic Games coming ever closer, many businesses are looking to engage casual workers in order to meet the growing demands that they face as a result.

It is routine for casual workers to be used in industries where the work is seasonal or varies from week-to-week and month-to-month. But as organisations in all manner of different sectors prepare for a special Olympics boost, their demand for extra staff is increasing too.
This is why many employers are turning to casual workers in the run up to, and during, the Games. Temporary workers can also be taken on via third party recruitment agencies.

But since the introduction of the 2011 Agency Workers Regulations, which gave certain basic rights to agency workers after 12 weeks service, taking on casual workers has become increasingly popular as employers are in more control and can bypass both red tape and extra fees.

As a result, offering workers a zero hours contract is now becoming the most commonly used way of ensuring that companies only pay for the work actually carried out.
Organisations may have a bank of short-term staff who can be called upon when demand means that extra support is required. This means that trusted workers do the job, while their employers have the flexibility to adapt resources accordingly.
Another possible approach is to use what is sometimes referred to as an umbrella contract. This arrangement means that individual workers are engaged to undertake a progressive series of individual contracts, but a master contract remains in place even when there is no need to use their labour.

Consider the cons as well as the pros
While it may potentially seem an expensive way of doing things, such an approach does have its advantages.
For example, the variable nature of casual work can create problems when it comes to determining precisely who will do what and when versus demand for capacity. Holidays can also present employers with difficulties as not knowing what hours will be worked in advance means that it is tricky to work out holiday entitlement.

In the case of an umbrella contract system, however, casual workers are entitled to holiday days, even when they are not working, because such entitlement falls under the provisions of the master contract.

Other possible downsides to employing casual workers also include a lack of worker loyalty or commitment to your business as well as inexperience and inadequate knowledge.
Because such a situation may not make a good impression on clients though, it is important to monitor your use of such workers on a regular basis in order to ensure that they are being employed and managed effectively.
If you use casual workers for longer than initially envisaged or find good ones that you want to keep on your books, however, it may make sense to assess whether to offer them an extended fixed term or permanent contract in return for more commitment.
On the other hand, do bear in mind that terminating a casual worker’s contract can be tricky. Ensure that you are clear about the reasons for terminating the arrangement and also that you abide by the termination provisions agreed when you took them on.

Nickie Harding is the owner and managing director of law firm, Hancocks Legal.
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Nickie Harding

Owner And Managing Director

Read more from Nickie Harding

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