Temporary staff – a quick fix or a risk?

From June to August 2012, Britain’s businesses took on an additional 1.6 million temporary workers. Employed across a range of sectors from agriculture to hospitality, the use of temporary or seasonal workers has become a year round feature of the British employment landscape. Many businesses rely on the short notice availability and flexibility of temporary staff as a key part of their business strategy. Those using temporary workers however, should beware of cutting corners in both health and safety, and in the recruitment process.

Temporary workers have rights too

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has laid down clear guidelines regarding the rights of temporary workers when it comes to their health and safety.  It is important businesses observe these rights as well as ensuring that their recruitment process does not expose them to unwittingly employing staff with no legal right to work in the U.K. Poor recruitment can also lead to increased theft/incidents of fraud where employees have not had the appropriate background screening.

Reduce your risks

There are a number of steps you can take to reduce the risks such as:

  • Make sure you have appropriate health and safety training in place (typically temporary employees may have no experience in the trade/environment and so need more supervision).
  • Carry out your own background screening of temporary staff.
  • Plan in advance for busy periods and have a pre-screened workforce ready to call up at short notice.
Also, make sure you check your recruitment agency contract to ascertain your contractual liabilities. Your employers’ liability policy should cover your legal liabilities in the event of a temporary worker sustaining an injury but as always, prevention is better than a cure.