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Hiring interim cover or at short notice

Hiring interim cover or at short notice

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Your business may need some interim cover as one of your key members of staff is off on long-term sick leave or maternity leave, or you may need an extra pair of hands at very short notice to deal with busy periods.

In these types of situations, what are your best options? Ellis Whittam look at what you can do and the essential things you need to be aware of:

Zero hours contracts

Despite the furore surrounding zero hours contracts in recent years, they are a great way to access a pool of people and respond quickly to fluctuations in demand. Employers particularly like these contracts because workers are only paid for the work they actually carry out.

However, employers need to take care to not fall in the common pitfall of assuming that zero hours contracts mean zero rights. Employers must establish the individual’s employment status and what rights they are entitled to. In most cases, the nature of zero hours means that the individual will be considered a ‘worker’, therefore they have the right to be paid the National Minimum Wage, paid annual leave and not to be discriminated against on basis of sex, disability etc.


You may decide to get your existing staff to work overtime. You can only make employees work overtime if their contract allows this. You do not have to pay workers for overtime, but the employer needs to ensure that the employee’s average pay for all the hours they have worked does not dip below the relevant minimum wage requirements.

Fixed-term contracts

Fixed term contracts are another fantastic way to get some additional help. But many businesses are unaware that fixed-term employees have a lot more rights and protections than they may first realise, which can lead to some nasty surprises and significant liability.

Fixed-term employees have the right to not to be treated less favourably than comparable permanent employees. Plus, the non-renewal of a fixed-term contract constitutes a dismissal in law. This means that they may be able to claim unfair dismissal if they have over two years’ service. They may be able to succeed in their claim if they show that the employer failed to renew their contract for a fair reason or for not following a fair procedure!

To explore this further, contact Ellis Whittam, who are NIVO’s preferred partner, on 0845 226 8393. Alternatively, contact Ben Delaney on for more information.

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