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Employing temporary workers over the Christmas period: The Essentials

The Christmas period is arguably the busiest time of year for retail businesses and the extra support from temporary workers, or 'Christmas temps' can be essential to handle the increase in workload, cover absences and meet increased business demand. However, it is important that employers are aware of the employment related rights and obligations that employing a Christmas temp involves.

Firstly, what are temporary workers?

Simply put, a temporary worker is a worker who is engaged by an employer for a temporary period of time. They may be hired on a fixed-term contract for an agreed period of time (with an end date), a zero hour contract or on an agency work contract.

What rights do temporary workers have?

The Agency Workers Regulations 2010 sets out the rights of temporary workers. These will depend on whether they:

  • Have employment status
  • Are categorised as a ‘worker’
  • Have continuous work service needed to qualify.

Workers with employee status

The focus of this short guide is on temporary workers who hold employment status. These workers are typically temporary employees and from day one of their employment are entitled to the same working conditions and benefits as permanent employees within the business (who are in comparable roles). This is unless the business can show that there is a good business reason not to do so.

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3-Step Essentials for employers hiring Christmas temps

1. Provide your temps with contracts of employment.

It is a legal requirement to provide all workers with an employment contract. Where the employee will under a fixed-term contract, the contract should state their start and finish date.

2. Ensure your temps are paid at least the National Minimum Wage. All workers have the right to be paid (at least) the National Minimum Wage. The minimum wage is dependent on the employee’s age. Rates as at April 2023 are as follows:

Age 2023/24

National Minimum Wage (per hour)

Apprentices and under 18s £5.28
18-20 £7.49
21 and 22 £10.18
23 and older £10.42


3. Ensure your temps receive:

  • The same pay and conditions as permanent staff
  • The same or equivalent benefits package as permanent staff
  • Information about permanent vacancies in the organisation
  • Protection against redundancy or dismissal

Fixed term employees should not be treated less favourably than a comparable permanent employer.


What if my business wants to end a temporary contract early?

You should not seek to end a fixed-term contract early unless you have ensured that you have a right to do this within the employment contract. Otherwise, you should ensure that the individual is paid up until the date the fixed-term contract is due to end.

What if my business wants to keep the temporary worker on at the end of the fixed-term contract?

This is fine. However, you must ensure that they receive a new employment contract.

What if my temp wants to terminate their fixed-term contract early?

Where your temp has been working for the business continuously for one month, they should provide your business with at least one week’s written notice.

Should temps receive holiday pay?

Yes. Temporary employees must accrue holiday pay in the same way permanent employees do. Your business will need to calculate how much your temps are entitled to depending on how long they are working with you for.  The statutory entitlement for full-time workers is 28 days. This means that if you have a temporary worker working over 5 days, divide 28 days by 12 months to get the monthly accrued days, then multiply the answer by the number of months they will work.

What if temps don’t take their holiday?

You must pay the equivalent amount of days that the worker did not take in their final payslip.

If you have any further questions around temporary workers, please contact one of our specialist Employment Lawyers.