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Temporary Appointments

ARTICLE ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED JANUARY 2008

CLIENTS QUESTION

"The last 6 months have been difficult for my Business, generally the high street has been quieter and my turnover has fallen. I have a member of staff leaving and I am reluctant to replace her like for like. What options are available to me?

A number of clients who have also encountered turnover problems have contacted me to discuss the process for making staff redundant. There are a range of alternatives other than appointing a full time permanent employee; all have pros and cons. However, the major choice is do you appoint on a temporary or permanent basis?

For obvious reasons temporary appointments are less attractive than a permanent one to applicants and you must take this in to account. Even if you do appoint a temp, many appointees will quickly be looking for a permanent position elsewhere.

The Law

"Part time workers" are protected (ie legally entitled to equivalent terms and conditions as full time staff) under the Part Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000.

Employees on fixed term temporary contracts are given similar rights under the Fixed Term Employees (prevention of less favourable treatment) Regulations 2002.

The Employment Rights Act 1996 entitles all employees (including temporary) to receive a Contract of Employment with the first 2 months of employment.

Temporary Appointments

If you do make a temporary appointment you are required to give the appointee a contract and equivalent conditions to a permanent member of staff. Similarly the Contract should specify the likely duration of the appointment and the reason for it being temporary.

Try to ensure you give yourself some flexibility. If you indicate "this is a temporary appointment for 6 months", then it is what it says on the label - a fixed term contract for 6 months. Another option would be to state "this is a temporary appointment for up to 6 months", depending upon turnover and is subject to 1 weeks notice.

Don't forget that after 12 months service employees on a fixed term or temporary contract are entitled to access Employment Tribunal and claim unfair dismissal. After 2 years employees have an entitlement to a redundancy payment and after 4 years to consider themselves a permanent employee.

Other options

You could make a permanent appointment as a permanent position will always be more attractive. Include a probationary period in your contract and if trade doesn't pick up and you cannot retain the employee then there is no redundancy costs until they reach 2 years service.

You could consider part time guaranteeing for example 20 hours per week but with a facility to increase the hours. I have written in other articles that part time hours could be very attractive to some applicants with for example child care commitments.

Annual hours

This may be particularly attractive where there are clear peaks and troughs in demand throughout the year. Instead of employing a member of staff for 30 weeks per year they are employed for 1564 hours per year. The employee receives 30 hours pay through out the year but may work nil or very few hours or up to 48 hours per week depending upon demand.

This can maximise the efficient utilisation of your employee ie they work when they are needed. Such flexibility will not appeal to all staff however a little give and take a working parent could find this type of arrangement mutually beneficial.

Term Time Hours

Similarly it might be attractive, in the right environment to employ someone for "term time only". The employee would work 39 weeks per year and take their leave outside of this period.



These are just two or three of the flexible forms of appointment which might solve the readers question.

Flexible appointments are popular and can be advantageous to the Business and an employee. We know that many full time staff have used the new rights to request flexible or part time working. However, many Employers have been reluctant to agree such requests and we know turnover is high in the industry. A part time or flexible hours contract might attract an experience applicant.



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