Fork lift truck driver in a santa outfit

Managing extra temporary staff for the Christmas rush 

Many businesses expect to see an upturn in sales during the Christmas period. UK consumers intend to spend an average £544 each this Christmas, 1.8% up on 2016, according to Deloitte. For retailers and others businesses Christmas is a crucial period – extra sales can significantly bump up the annual sales figures. However it’s also a time when firms need to take on extra temporary staff to meet this demand. This means that employers have to manage new staff at an already busy time of year. It’s vital therefore that you plan ahead to recruit, induct and pay your Christmas temporary staff.

Small businesses and temporary Christmas staff

With Christmas spending expected to rise this year, businesses may need to look to recruiting extra staff. As the majority of seasonal spending is predicted to go on gifts (£284), followed by food and drink (£141), socialising (£63) and travel (£56), seasonal staff with a range of skills will need to be taken on. The retail sector is well-known for hiring temp staff at this time but there are others too including hotels, manufacturing companies and warehousing/distribution. The Royal Mail launched its drive earlier this year to recruit 20,000 extra workers for the busy Christmas period while Amazon is also set to recruit thousands extra.

While larger companies find it easier to attract temporary workers it can be more challenging for SMEs who have limited time and resources. Worse still are the logistical and payroll headaches which non-standard contracts can bring.

If you’re looking to make extra hires, here are some tips on managing temporary staff at Christmas:

  • Recruit temporary workers – try to identify the need for extra workers as early as possible to avoid last minute panics. Review any pool of temporary workers you may have and match up their skills to the extra roles available. You might find it helpful to use agency staff. Remember that the same government ‘right-to-work’ legislation applies to temporary workers as well as age restrictions.
  • Comply with employment legislation – while temporary workers may be short-term and casual but they are still covered by legislation. You will need to be aware of your obligations and their rights. These include:
    • National Minimum Wages: temporary workers in effect have the same, albeit pro-rata, rights as permanent staff. You can only pay them a lower rate than permanent staff where this is justified based on their experience and skills.
    • Paid holidays: this also comes under sharing permanent rights on a pro-rata basis; this means a seasonal worker is entitled to holiday in proportion to the length of their contract. Ensure this is pre-calculated and included in their contract so all parties are clear.
    • Dismissing temporary workers: if temporary workers aren’t up to scratch to the extent that you need to let them go before their contract ends then the same procedures apply as for your permanent staff – include the procedures in their contract.
  • Training and induction – prepare a condensed version of your usual on-boarding or induction procedures. You want to ensure that temporary employees fit in as seamlessly as possible; it’s especially important if they have a customer-facing role and will be representing you company. Any training which can be provided will also be a boon during the busy period.

It’s good for a business to have clear management practices in place. Not least you will build goodwill and be able to call on the temporary workers again the next time you need them. You might also find some excellent staff who can be tempted to apply for permanent jobs in the company.

A good cloud-based time and attendance system such as uAttend allows small businesses to manage staff on flexible contracts with a minimum of fuss. It’s a flexible and automated on-line service which can seamlessly export attendance data to payroll.

About the Author

Chronologic - uAttend is part of the Chronologic workforce management portfolio. To find out more about our time and attendance software solutions call 01761 410015 or email