Seasonal stopgap – Recruiting temporary staff at Christmas

As Christmas approaches, many companies may be considering hiring extra staff on a temporary basis to cover them over the busy period.

Contact centre business Conduit relies on temporary workers all year round, but particularly at this time of year.

European CEO Denis Creighton says that such workers provide a ‘flexible and cost-effective approach’ to meeting the needs of clients.He adds, ‘It’s also an opportunity for us to spot talent for future permanent roles within our organisation and it allows people to determine whether working in a contact centre is a career path they might wish to pursue.’

Despite the benefits, a change in employment legislation has added a level of complexity to taking on temporary staff. The new Agency Workers Regulations came into effect on 1 October, meaning that after a 12-week period workers will be entitled to some of the benefits enjoyed by permanent staff.

Jonathan Exten-Wright, a partner at law firm DLA Piper, explains that the entitlements relate to basic working conditions such as overtime, working hours, holidays, access to training and facilities such as childcare. They do not include pension provision and occupational sick pay, though. There is a way that companies can still hire seasonal workers without spending time and resources getting to grips with the regulations. Conduit uses agencies to fill the gaps, putting the onus on them to keep up to speed with relevant legislation.

Creighton states, ‘First of all you need to know that they have a healthy network of pre-screened individuals, and then the most important thing for us is building up good long-standing relationships with agencies. You must get them to understand your mode of operation and have regular meetings with them so that they can fully understand your culture and any previous concerns.

Other companies prefer to recruit their own temporary staff, such as direct marketing agency Granby Marketing Services. Managing director Joanne Varey explains, ‘We recruit directly, so we know exactly who we are going to get. Over the past six years Granby has built up a database of about 300 people it can call on when contracts come up. However, Varey warns that if companies do go down this route then they must have a capable HR department. ‘Our HR team must be conscious of rules and regulations, as well as keeping track of contracts, inductions and health and safety training for anyone who will work here.

Also see: How to switch off and still run a business at Christmas

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