Temporary Christmas Jobs – A Legal Guide


temporary christmas job advice


Christmas is the time of the year when the job market goes into over drive. With increased pressure on the retail and hospitality industry, there’s an avalanche of seasonal jobs on offer. Now’s the chance to earn some extra Christmas money, but at the same time, be mindful of how many hours you are working, and for how much.

Christmas Hours

At such a busy time, temporary bosses may ask you to work long and often unsociable hours to get the job done. You may be more than happy to do this, however if you aren’t, there are regulations dictating the maximum number of hours an employee is allowed to work. These are called the Working Time Regulations, and mean you can’t work more than 48 hours a week, taken on an average over seven weeks. They also entitle you to:

  • A minimum period of 11 hours uninterrupted rest per day between finishing your job and starting the next day. If aged 15-18, you are entitled to a minimum daily break of 12 hours.
  • 24 hours uninterrupted rest within a seven day period.15-18 year olds are entitled to 48 hours. Or, at the employer’s choice, 48 consecutive hours within a 14 day period.
  • 20 minutes of break for every 6 hour long shift, or 30 minutes if you are aged 15-18 years and you work more a 4.5 hour long shift.

Of course, you can opt out of these regulations at any time.

Zero Hour contracts

These contracts have received a lot of press over the last few years. They are used in situations that call for the temporary or changeable need for staff. For example: a hotel needs extra waiting staff to cater for a last minute event, something that’s not uncommon in the festive season.

What a zero hour contract usually means is that there is no obligation for employers to offer out work, nor for workers to accept it. This has in the past resulted in the exploitation of workers, as they can be denied work at any time and for any reason. Most often it’s because of declining work. Even if the worker is simply unable to make a shift or an event,it can result in a prolonged period of lack of work. This is why the Guardian reported in 2014 that millions of UK workers were still trapped in low-paid, insecure jobs, where mistreatment was rife.

The good news is that new laws have been passed this year prohibiting the right to exclusivity, meaning you’re not tied to just one employer. It’s useful to understand the implications of these contracts as they can be very common at Christmas.

Christmas Wages

Most people are entitled to the minimum wage, even at Christmas! This includesagency and home workers, commission workers, part time workers and also those working for small firms.

In the UK, the National Minimum wage for workers aged 21 and over is £6.70 per hour. For 18 to 20 year olds it’s £5.30. Workers aged 16 and 17 get £3.87. The rate for apprentices under the age of 19 is £3.30. Make sure you’re getting the minimum wage, no matter what sort of temporary job you land this Christmas.

However, there are a few types of workers who are exempt from the minimum wage. These are:

  • family members working for a family-run business
  • certain kinds of trainees on government-funded schemes
  • students in higher education work placements that last up to a maximum of one year
  • members of the armed forces
  • self-employed individuals running his/her own business


We hope this guide has been useful to you, and wish you luck over the festive season with any new jobs. Just be sure that your temporary employer still follows the rules! If you need help at all, we’re just a phone call away. Call us on 0203 002 4898 or email: [email protected].