What rights do I have as a temp worker in the hospitality industry?

Temporary employment is a growing part of the UK jobs market and many of those looking for hospitality work will consider a temp position at some point during their job search.

A report released last week by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and business services firm KPMG revealed that the number of firms looking for temporary staff rose for the second month running in September, with the rate of expansion quickening to a 14-month high, while at the same time the number of vacancies for permanent staff continued to fall.

And with the Christmas period on the horizon – traditionally a busy time in the hospitality industry when many employers will be looking to take on extra staff for positions – looking for temporary work could prove particularly fruitful for jobseekers over the coming months.

"This month's figures show that the temporary labour market has bouncebackability," says REC chief executive Kevin Green.

"Temporary staff are an efficient, flexible way for businesses to increase their workforce and grow their businesses out of recession."

Indeed, hospitality jobseekers can expect to see all sorts of temp positions advertised over the coming weeks in the run up to Christmas, from hotel jobs to bar work.

But many jobseekers may be under the misconception that as a temporary worker, they will not be treated as well or afforded the same rights as a permanent member of staff.

However, thanks to new legislation introduced last year, this is no longer the case, and as with all employees, it is important that those entering a temporary position are aware of their rights so that they can ensure that they are treated fairly and within the law.

The most important piece of legislation to be aware of is the Agency Worker Regulations 2010, the introduction of which signalled a big shift in the status of temporary employees.

They stipulate that temporary workers employed through an agency are entitled to the same or no less favourable treatment as comparable employees with respect to basic employment and working conditions, if and when they complete a qualifying period of 12 weeks in a particular job.

The regulations cover essential rights such as those relating to salary and annual leave. This means that after you have worked for 12 weeks in a temp position at a firm, then you are entitled to the same level of pay and the same amount of paid holiday as a permanent member staff is working in a broadly similar role to you.

You are also entitled to certain rights under the Agency Worker Regulations from the moment you start work.

For example, a temp worker is entitled to the same access to facilities as a comparable permanent member of staff, such as employee canteens, childcare and transport. They are also entitled to be informed about any permanent job vacancies that may arise at the company.

And despite the introduction of these rules, which came into effect in October last year, all the evidence suggests that employers have not been deterred from taking on temps, meaning there should still be plenty of job opportunities out there.

"[The] increase in the use of temps for the second month in a row could be a sign of optimism among employers, and that they are gearing up for future growth," commented the REC's Mr Green.

"It certainly puts pay to any idea that changes to Agency Worker Regulations last year dissuaded British businesses from using temps as a vital component of their workforce.

Meanwhile, there are certain rights that every employee in the UK, temp or permanent, is entitled to under human rights law.

This includes things like rest breaks and limits on working time, no unlawful deductions from wages and not to be discriminated against under any of the UK's equality legislation.

However, bear in mind that most temp workers are not entitled to redundancy pay or to make a claim for unfair dismissal against their employer.

Berkeley Scott provides specialist advice and support to help you with hospitality careers