Do you employ casual or seasonal workers?

Published on
7 March 2018

What you need to know about employment law for casual workers if you work in hospitality.

Nigel Crebbin, employment law partner at Burnetts, looks at the sometimes tricky question of employment status for casual workers.

As with any popular tourist area, Cumbria is home to many casual and seasonal workers and hiring additional staff for the spring and summer seasons is an annual task for businesses in the hospitality and catering sectors.

Sometimes firms will take on staff on a short‐term basis, for example over the summer, but staffing needs can be as unpredictable as the Lake District weather. Many employers will have a bank of workers who do not have fixed or guaranteed hours, but who can be called upon on an ‘as and when’ basis.

However, as recent cases involving businesses like Uber have shown, it can be difficult to assess what employment status and employment rights ‘zero hour’ workers like these have.

As well as the categories of ‘employee’ and ‘self‐employed’, employment law has a further category of ‘worker’ which is a halfway house between the two.

Non‐employee workers do not have as many legal rights as employees, but do still have certain legal entitlements and protections:

Employees only enjoy protection against unfair dismissal; right to redundancy pay; statutory notice entitlements; maternity leave; paternity leave; shared parental leave; and fixed-term employment protection.

Employees and workers both enjoy the national and minimum living wage; whistleblowing protection; working time rights (including paid holiday); part‐time workers’ protection; protection from discrimination; the right to be accompanied to disciplinary and grievance hearings; and protection from unlawful deduction from wages.

Distinguishing between an employee, a worker and a self‐employed person can be a grey area, even for the courts, but it’s always a good idea for employers (big and small) who hire people on a casual basis to provide them with written contracts that reflect this arrangement.

Burnetts can provide a simple casual worker’s contract at an affordable fixed fee, so that at least there’s clarity of the terms on which the person is taken on.

  • Please note that the law in this area is complex and this article does not constitute legal advice.
  • For more information regarding casual workers’ rights and employer obligations, contact Nigel Crebbin on 01768 800855, email or visit

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