By Daniel Hunter

According to de Poel, the UK’s number one procurer of temporary agency labour, the use of temporary workers will rise by around 30% over the festive period, especially in the retail, distribution and supply chain industries, due in part to the boom in internet shopping over the festive season[/url].

Companies that will cope best with this rise in consumer demand over the festive season will be those that put in place steps to recruit their temporary workers back as early as August.

"Last year, British shoppers spent nearly £8bn online in December, a 16.5% increase compared with the 2010 Christmas period," said Phil Tromans, Director of Client Services at de Poel. "Based on our experience and our historic data on the number of hours worked by temporary labourers over the Christmas period, we expect to see the use of temporary workers rise by around 30 per cent, compared to business as usual levels, and almost double in some sectors, due to this boom in internet shopping.

"But recruiting enough temporary staff to ensure business runs smoothly, and that stock is delivered on time, requires planning, we have been working with some of our clients as far back as 16 weeks before December to ensure Christmas is delivered.

"Some companies will retain the increased temporary workers they used over the Olympics, hoping that this will be sufficient to tide them over until the new year. This is great news for the number of agency workers who want the flexibility to increase the number of hours they work at this time of the year."

Companies, especially in the retail, distribution and supply chain industry, have to ensure workers are properly vetted according to legislative requirements, such as criminal record checks. Migrant workers need to have the appropriate visas. Drivers need to be assessed and checked to ensure they have the correct driving qualifications and licenses, and companies need to take into consideration temporary agency labour legislation such as the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR).

Organisations need to consider how long they will use each worker for, both during the peak festive period and beyond. Workers who attain 12 qualifying weeks working in the same role with the same hirer will become eligible for what is known as pay parity, meaning that once they attain this qualifying period with a hirer, they will, in most cases, see an increase in their hourly rate to a rate identical to those paid to directly engaged employees of the hirer.

Alternatively, companies can choose to only hire workers who are engaged on contracts of employment which comply with Regulation 10 of AWR, under what is popularly known as “Swedish Derogation”. Swedish Derogation provides that, in return for a worker foregoing their rights to pay parity after 12 qualifying weeks with a hirer, their employer, which in most cases will be the supplying temporary work agency, will pay that worker, where the worker is not working but is available to undertake work, “pay between assignments” for a minimum of four weeks. Both approaches will require a hirer to plan in advance and undertake a sensible and detailed forecast of their staffing needs over the festive period.

"If an organisation is suddenly short of temporary workers, for example they decide to go on holiday at short notice over Christmas, then it's very difficult to suddenly replace them if various checks need to be undertaken, which can take weeks," added Tromans.

"Working on a temporary basis has benefits for both worker and employer as it gives both parties flexibility without any long term commitment. But this comes with the understanding that a temporary worker will also want to take holidays at this time of year. To help plan for this eventuality, make sure you communicate with your temporary staff and offer incentives to work over the festive period. Having a continuous recruitment drive, close relationships with supplying agencies as well as a forward thinking plan can also help with this."

Join us on
Follow @freshbusiness