Seasonal Employment Laws in the UK: A Guide for Employers

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In the UK, seasonal work jobs are on the rise. In fact, as of December 2023, there are about 1.4 million temporary employees in the country. Hence, it’s imperative that companies understand what’s in the seasonal employment laws. In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of hiring seasonal workers and how to be in compliance with the existing legislation. 

What is Seasonal Employment?

Seasonal employment refers to hiring individuals on a temporary basis, often to meet the increased demand for services or products at specific times of the year. This employment type is indispensable across numerous sectors, including retail, agriculture, tourism, and hospitality. 

Seasonal employment not only helps businesses manage workload fluctuations but also provides vital employment opportunities to a diverse pool of workers.

Are Seasonal Employees The Same As Temporary Workers?

While seasonal and temporary workers share similarities, such as fixed-term employment durations, seasonal employment is uniquely defined by its predictability and recurrence during certain periods of the year


Are There Types Of Seasonal Employees?

In practice, there are two types of seasonal employees: recurring and casual

Recurring Seasonal Employees

Recurring seasonal workers are individuals who are employed on a seasonal basis but return to the same employer or job annually. As such, employers benefit from their experience and familiarity with the role. 

Examples include holiday resort staff who work every summer, tax season accountants active from January to April, agricultural workers during harvest times, and Christmas market sellers who appear annually.

Casual Seasonal Employees 

Casual Seasonal Workers are hired on an as-needed basis during a season and typically do not have the expectation of returning to the same role or employer annually.  This means employers have to spend a bit more time onboarding and training them. 

Examples include event staff at various festivals, temporary retail workers during major sales, tour guides during tourist season peaks, and construction workers for seasonal projects.

Here’s a guide on Candidate Onboarding and the Must-Have Activities to Include

Should Seasonal Workers Have Employment Contracts?

Having a contract is a legal requirement, even for seasonal employment. Providing clear, fixed-term contracts not only ensures compliance with seasonal employment laws but also sets clear expectations, safeguarding both the employer and the employee. 

The employment contract should detail the following: 

  • Job roles
  • Durations
  • Wage rates
  • Any relevant provisions for termination

Note that as an employer, it is your legal obligation to provide a written contract within two months of hiring an employee. 

As an employer, you may end the employment before the stipulated date in the contract, however, the contract must also define the conditions for this. 

Seasonal Employment Laws: What Rights Do Seasonal Workers Have?

Seasonal workers are entitled to many of the same protections as permanent staff, including minimum wage, rest breaks, and holiday pay. Employers must honour these seasons workers rights, reflecting fairness and compliance with seasonal employment laws. 

Here are more details about it:

Minimum Wage

Under the seasonal employment laws, workers are entitled to at least the National Minimum Wage, the National Living Wage, or the Agricultural Minimum Wage. You may find the rates here

Rest Breaks

What rights do seasonal workers have when it comes to rest periods? 

Just like permanent workers, seasonal employment laws dictate that they must have:

  • One day off weekly or 2 days off every 2 week 
  • 20 minutes of uninterrupted rest break if they work for more than 6 hours 

Likewise, workers must not work more than 48 hours per week unless they choose to do so. 

Annual Leave

Are seasonal workers entitled to holiday pay? 

Under the law, those under a fixed-term contract are also entitled to annual leave at the start of employment. The number of paid holidays depends on the number of days or hours they worked. 

If at the end of the employment a worker is owed some holidays, this must be paid to them as well. 


Under the seasonal employment laws, employers must never ask for fees from workers for finding them work. 

If your company provides additional services that employees might find beneficial, they are certainly free to opt into these services at their own discretion. However, you must ensure that their employment is not contingent upon their decision to purchase these additional services. 

Identity Papers 

If you’re employing foreign nationals, please keep in mind that it is against the law to keep their identity papers (eg. passport) away from them. 

Guide to Hiring Seasonal Workers in the UK
Topic Summary
Minimum Wage Seasonal workers are guaranteed at least the National Minimum Wage, National Living Wage, or Agricultural Minimum Wage.
Rest Breaks Seasonal workers are entitled to one day off weekly or two days off every two weeks, a 20-minute rest break for shifts over 6 hours, and should not work over 48 hours per week unless opted.
Annual Leave Seasonal workers on fixed-term contracts are entitled to annual leave from the start of employment. Unused holiday pay must be compensated at the end of the employment term.
Fees Employers cannot charge fees for finding work for seasonal workers. Any additional services offered must be optional and not affect employment status.
Identity Papers It is illegal for employers to withhold identity papers such as passports from foreign national workers.
Health and Safety Employers must ensure workplace health and safety, provide necessary training, and supply protective equipment at no cost, focusing on the heightened risks for new and seasonal workers.
Discrimination Employers must adhere to the Equality Act of 2010, ensuring no discrimination against employees based on protected characteristics.
Accommodation Provided accommodation must be safe, not overcrowded, and well-equipped with essential facilities. All safety checks and maintenance are to be upheld.
Deductions and Itemised Pay Stub Payroll deductions must be clearly itemised in pay stubs, and net pay after deductions should not fall below the minimum wage, except in certain cases.

Health and Safety

As an employer, you have a legal obligation to ensure the health and safety of your employees while they are at work. 

Make sure to provide them with all necessary health and safety information and training at no cost. Additionally, protective clothing and equipment necessary for their roles should also be supplied for free. 

Remember that new and seasonal workers are at a higher risk of injury considering they may not be familiar with the roles yet, hence, it’s crucial to prioritise safety and health training. 


Seasonal employment laws also embody the Equality Act of 2010. Companies must never discriminate against employees on the basis of age, race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, marriage or civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity status.


If providing accommodation is a part of the contract, the accommodation must be safe, not overcrowded, and with adequate facilities, such as kitchen, bathroom, and toilet. The annual gas check must be visible to them, too, and appliances must be well-maintained. 

Deductions and Itemised Pay Stub 

Companies withhold certain payroll deductions from the employees’ pay. These should be itemised in the pay slip. Generally, the worker must receive the net amount written in the stub, and even with the deductions, the amount shouldn’t be below the minimum wage, except for some circumstances. 

Acknowledging these obligations not only aligns with seasonal employment laws but also contributes to a positive and productive workplace culture.


The Benefits of Hiring Seasonal Workers

Hiring seasonal workers offers businesses the flexibility to scale their workforce in response to consumer demand, ensuring high service levels and customer satisfaction. Moreover, it provides a valuable opportunity for employers to assess potential candidates for long-term roles. 

It offers flexibility

Seasonal employees provide businesses with the ability to scale their workforce up or down depending on demand. This flexibility is crucial for industries that experience seasonal peaks, allowing companies to efficiently manage workload variations without the long-term commitment of permanent hires.

It’s cost-efficient 

Employing seasonal workers can lead to significant cost savings. It reduces the need for overtime pay for regular staff and minimises expenses related to benefits and other long-term employee costs. Seasonal hiring allows businesses to align their labour costs more directly with their operational needs.

It gives access to specialised skills

Seasonal periods often require specialised skills that the existing workforce may not possess. Hiring seasonal employees for their specific skill sets or expertise can enhance the quality of service or production during peak times, ensuring that businesses meet or exceed customer expectations.

It provides opportunity to evaluate employees for possible permanent roles

Seasonal employment acts as a trial period, offering employers the chance to assess the performance and fit of these workers within the company culture. High-performing seasonal employees can be a valuable pool from which to draw when filling permanent positions, reducing recruitment and training costs.

It helps boost productivity

Seasonal workers can alleviate the workload on your permanent staff, preventing burnout and maintaining high morale during busy periods. This helps sustain high productivity levels across the organisation, ensuring that business operations run smoothly and efficiently throughout seasonal peaks.


Even For Seasonal Roles, Don’t Neglect Background Checks

While seasonal workers may only be part of your team for a short duration, it is crucial that companies do not overlook the importance of conducting thorough background checks before employment. Here are the reasons why background screening is important:

Ensure safety through verified experience and skills

Seasonal workers often have varied levels of experience and skill sets. Conducting background checks helps verify their qualifications and previous work history, which is vital in reducing the risk of accidents. 

Safeguarding customers during peak seasons

During busy seasons, seasonal workers interact with a large number of customers. Background checks, such as criminal records checks, are essential to ensure that these workers do not pose a risk to others. 

Learn more about Criminal Records Checks for Employment here.

Consideration for future employment

Background checks are not only important for temporary roles but also for potential future employment. If a seasonal worker is considered for rehire in subsequent seasons or for a permanent position, having a complete background profile from the start facilitates easier decision-making regarding their long-term suitability for your company.

Compliance with right to work legislation

It is legally mandatory to conduct right to work checks in the UK, ensuring that all employees are legally allowed to work. Seasonal roles often attract a high volume of applicants, including those from abroad, making it imperative to verify each individual's work eligibility to comply with employment laws.

Learn more about Right to Work Checks in the UK in this article

Trust Veremark For Your Seasonal Background Check Needs

Ensure the integrity and safety of your seasonal hires with Veremark, the background screening platform trusted by the world's top workplaces. At Veremark, we specialise in fast, comprehensive checks that are fully compliant with legal standards. Our service is customizable and scalable, allowing you to select only the checks you need for your seasonal employment requirements—without any lock-in periods or long-term contracts. Trust Veremark to streamline your hiring process efficiently and effectively. Get started today and make every hire count with confidence.

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What is seasonal employment?

Seasonal employment involves hiring individuals for a specific period when demand is temporarily high, such as during holiday seasons or harvest times.

What are the stipulations in the UK seasonal employment laws?

In the UK, seasonal employment laws require adherence to standard employment rights, including minimum wage, working hours, and health and safety regulations, regardless of the short-term nature of the work.

Are background checks still necessary for seasonal roles?

Yes, background checks are necessary for seasonal roles to ensure workplace safety and compliance with legal employment standards.


What background check do I need?

This depends on the industry and type of role you are recruiting for. To determine whether you need reference checks, identity checks, bankruptcy checks, civil background checks, credit checks for employment or any of the other background checks we offer, chat to our team of dedicated account managers.

Why should employers check the background of potential employees?

Many industries have compliance-related employment check requirements. And even if your industry doesn’t, remember that your staff have access to assets and data that must be protected. When you employ a new staff member you need to be certain that they have the best interests of your business at heart. Carrying out comprehensive background checking helps mitigate risk and ensures a safer hiring decision.

How long do background checks take?

Again, this depends on the type of checks you need. Simple identity checks can be carried out in as little as a few hours but a worldwide criminal background check for instance might take several weeks. A simple pre-employment check package takes around a week. Our account managers are specialists and can provide detailed information into which checks you need and how long they will take.

Can you do a background check online?

All Veremark checks are carried out online and digitally. This eliminates the need to collect, store and manage paper documents and information making the process faster, more efficient and ensures complete safety of candidate data and documents.

What are the benefits of a background check?

In a competitive marketplace, making the right hiring decisions is key to the success of your company. Employment background checks enables you to understand more about your candidates before making crucial decisions which can have either beneficial or catastrophic effects on your business.

What does a background check show?

Background checks not only provide useful insights into a candidate’s work history, skills and education, but they can also offer richer detail into someone’s personality and character traits. This gives you a huge advantage when considering who to hire. Background checking also ensures that candidates are legally allowed to carry out certain roles, failed criminal and credit checks could prevent them from working with vulnerable people or in a financial function.

Transform your hiring process

Request a discovery session with one of our background screening experts today.

UK Right to Work Guide

As an employer, you’ll know it’s your legal responsibility to check the immigration status of each candidate with a right to work check - but did you know this can now be done digitally without any in-person involvement?

With digital right to work checks underway - learn how you can obtain a statutory excuse and stay one step ahead of illegal workers along with the severe consequences of hiring them.

Right to Work legislation requires that every United Kingdom (UK) employer, regardless of size, conduct a right to work check on every new employee before they are onboarded, as well as ensuring the right to work status of existing employees. Though it is a simple prerequisite, failure to comply can result in serious repercussions for employers. Non-compliance can result in fines of up to £20,000 per employee and/or a jail term of 5 year.

The severity of the penalties for employing an undocumented immigrant worker can potentially damage the employer's brand and business reputation as well as lead to sponsor license suspensions and disqualification of directors. The only way to establish a defence against a civil penalty or statutory excuse is for the employer to demonstrate that the right to work check has been carried out as per the regulations and the employer has valid proof of the same.

Our comprehensive right to work guide covers all of the latest updates - including how employers can remotely verify an individual's right to work status using an identity service provider!

In this report, we discuss:

- Who has the right to work in the UK?

- What is UK’s Right to Work Check?

- What are the employer obligations for the right to work check?

- How does an IDSP enable employer compliance with the right to work check?

- How can Veremark help employers comply with the regulation?

Get your own copy!