Casual workers’ rights

This month we are considering the rights of casual workers and how they differ from those of employees.

The term “casual worker” can be used to describe someone who undertakes work for an organisation on an ad hoc basis. The organisation is under no obligation to offer the casual worker any work and the worker does not have to accept work if it is offered.

Causal workers have some legal rights but not as many as employees. For instance, there is no requirement to provide a casual worker with a statement of main terms or an itemised payslip and no notice is required to terminate their agreement with a business. Having said this, we would always recommend writing down the terms of the agreement for clarity – particularly around the fact that the engagement is as a casual worker and not as an employee and that there is no obligation to provide work.

Casual workers cannot claim unfair dismissal if the organisation stops offering them work, they do not have to be provided with notice to terminate their engagement and they do not have the right to a redundancy payment.

There are however a number of important rights that casual workers do benefit from. They have the right not to suffer discrimination. They are further entitled to be paid at least the national minimum wage and they accrue and must be paid for annual leave. Casual workers also have the right to daily and weekly rest breaks and are subject to the same working time limitations as employees.

There has been a flurry of cases in the UK over the past number of years highlighting the issues a business can face when determining a worker’s employment status. Workers have brought cases to the tribunal as they have not been afforded rights or protections to which they believed they were entitled as they were unclear about their employment status.

The tribunal or court is then tasked with determining whether the individual was an employee, casual worker or self-employed worker. In light of these cases and the differences in rights afforded to employees, workers and the genuinely self-employed, we would recommend that all organisations take advice to ensure that they are attaching the correct status to the individuals engaged by the organisation.

Please get in touch with us to discuss this further if you engage people in your organisation and you would benefit from a review of their employment status.

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