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The rights of temporary employees

Some employers forget that temporary employees do have rights


decorative image for guidance blogThe rights of temporary employees are currently a newsworthy issue because a number of employers take on temporary staff in the run up to Christmas then shed them in January and February.

We are also seeing redundancies being announced in the tech industry, where temporary contracts are common. Although it is legitimate to end a temporary employee’s employment when their contract term expires, some employers forget that temporary employees do have rights.

For example, they must not be discriminated against or harassed. So, if a temp suffers say sexual harassment at work, they have the same employment protections as a long-term employee.

They also have the right to be paid the same and have the same benefits as a permanent employee. Therefore if permanent employees get gym membership or subsidised travel, for example, the same must apply to temps unless their overall package is comparable, by paying the temps more to offset against some other benefits.  

If an employer is going to treat temps less favourably than permanent employees then they have to show an objectively justifiable business reason for that and that there was no less discriminatory way to achieve the business aim. That could be quite a high bar to reach in an Employment Tribunal for an employer.

If a temp is dismissed just because they have tried to enforce their rights as a temporary fixed term employee then that can amount to automatically unfair dismissal. So temporary employees actually get some enhanced employment protections, which some employers may not be aware of.

All of this means that temporary employees should not assume that they have no employment rights. Employers should also be aware that they have to give some thought to how they treat temporary employees and consider those rights.

Employment law can be a very complex area where, in the event of disputes, both employees and employers need legal advice. Whichever one you are, if you need to find a solicitor specialising in employment law then our site can help you find one that is right for you, simply search for a solicitor at