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In the lead up to the Christmas season retailers are going to be hiring seasonal or short-term casual employees to help cope with that present buying surge. In this blog, Better HR provides some useful tips to make it a little less stressful when hiring seasonal help.

Same rules apply

Although businesses are looking to hire employees just for the Christmas period, most of the same issues arise as when recruiting generally and should be managed appropriately. Some of the issues I outline might seem like an added burden for short term employees, but please believe me that they are a worthy investment.

So let’s start at the very beginning. When advertising the role, it is appropriate to state that the engagement is on a casual or fixed term basis.

Contracts of employment…and in writing

Some employers hire casuals, especially short-term casuals, without providing a contract of employment. If things go pear shaped later and there is no written contract of employment…well I get a bad feeling in the stomach.

We recommend employers provide casual employees with a contract of employment that outlines the terms and conditions of their engagement. It doesn’t have to be a biblical tome, but the contract should cover the basics. As the engagement is casual, and perhaps short-term, it is most appropriate to advise the employee there is no promise of ongoing employment and their employment is on an as required basis. You might not have fixed hours of work for a casual so instead state that the employee will be advised of the required hours on an ongoing basis.

Christmas Casuals

As with all employees, a contract of employment should state that the company has workplace policies in place (please have workplace policies!) and that the employee will be expected to adhere to them. Provide copies of those policies to the employee.

We would also recommend that if an industrial Award covers the role of the employee, reference it in the contract. A relevant Award will contain minimum rates of pay, span and spread of working hours, overtime rates, required breaks and other related minimum entitlements. A copy of the relevant Award needs to be available for the employee should they wish to read it. Employers of casuals often forget this legislative requirement.

For many retail workers the General Retail Industry Award 2010 will likely apply, but other Awards may also be applicable. We provide a lot of interpretation about Awards, and proactive employers are the ones we love to hear from. If in doubt seek advice on which is the relevant Award and it applies in your business.

As with any new employee, don’t forget to provide the one-page Fair Work Information Statement. Although there will be some exclusions for casual employees such as annual leave and personal leave, it is nevertheless a legislative requirement to provide a copy to each new employee, even short-term employees.

Welcome aboard

Remember you have a duty of care to all employees whether permanent, casual or even short term. Before the employee starts their duties on day one, make sure you undertake some level of induction. It doesn’t have to be complex, but you should at least cover a few basics.

New employees are at a higher risk of injury, often because they are over eager. If the role requires the employee to lift and carry weight, advise the employee on safe lifting and carrying techniques. Additionally, we recommend you inform your newbies of any procedures for accessing and departing from the premises, where to seek First Aid, where to seek refreshment, where to have rest breaks if such facilities exist, and where to go for toilet breaks.

It might seem like overkill, but for each of the outlined steps you undertake, your risk for things to go wrong later incrementally reduces. Finally, if in doubt seek advice and keep a record of the steps you undertake as it provides evidential support if things don’t work out.

Better HR hopes you all have a very profitable and successful season.

Author: Charles Watson, Sernior HR Advisor, Better HR.

Previously published on Retailbiz

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