An Extra Pair Of Hands: Our Guide To Hiring Temporary Employees For Busy Periods


Whether you’re a sole-trader in need of someone with specialist skills to help you tackle a particularly tricky problem, or a small business owner who needs all the manpower you can get after finally winning that big contract, you’re certainly not the first to find yourself needing a little helping hand.

In those situations, hiring temporary employees seems like the perfect quick fix. We get the help we need, when we need it, with none of the logistical complications and long-term commitment of full-time employment.

But let’s be honest – just trying to navigate the minefield of information about hiring part-time employees for your trade business can be enough to have you hurling your tools at the wall in despair.

Worry not, dear reader. Help is at hand.

Saving you the time and headaches of researching the whole subject for yourself (not to mention the cost of new tools after you broke them against the wall!), we’re here with our quick, comprehensive, and complication-free guide to everything you could ever want to know about hiring temporary employees.


When your mate just won’t do – where to find temporary staff

So, you’re here again. Another big job has come up, and if you’re ever going to the wife and kids again before Christmas, going it alone just isn’t an option. Last time you were in this situation, it was easy enough to rope in a mate who could tackle all the stuff that didn’t need any special skills, whilst you went about went about wielding your screwdriver like some kind of Jedi Master and getting the technical stuff taken care of.

This time, that’s not going to cut it. This time, you need someone with specialist skills and qualifications – and that means looking beyond the usual bunch of lads.

So, where do you start?

Typically, you’ll start with one of three options:


direct hiring

Direct hiring

You could post an ad in the paper, ask around for recommendations, at the job centre, or even posting on Facebook. It’s an easy way to cut out the middleman sure and take greater control of the recruitment process, but before you do, ask yourself this – haven’t you got enough on your plate already? Isn’t the whole reason you’re looking for a new recruit in the first place?

If the answer to both those questions is yes, you could always go for option two.


recruitment agency

Recruitment agency

An easier – though not always cost-effective – alternative may be to go to the same recruitment agency you used last time you hired a full-time employee for your growing trade business. That new hire turned out to be a solid member of the team, so you know they produce results. Plus, getting them to do all the hard work for you means you’re free to focus on your projects.

The only downside is that doing so can prove stupidly expensive. When the fees they charge to help you recruit someone for even a few months, weeks, or even days is the same as it would be for hiring someone full-time, that doesn’t necessarily represent great value for money.

Thankfully, there is a third option.


temp agencies

Temp agencies

By eliminating all the time and hassle of doing your own recruitment without charging the eye-watering fees of some recruitment agencies, temp agencies seem to deliver the best of both worlds, so it’s no wonder they’re such a popular option among self-employed professionals and business owners who need to bridge a gap quickly.

But wait! Before you hit Google in search of a temp agency that will serve as the answer to all your prayers, there’s a few things you should know:


paying for agency workers

Paying for agency workers

In most circumstances, you’ll pay the agency an agreed fee for the amount of time the worker will be with you, and they take care of paying the worker’s actual wages, including tax and National Insurance. Obviously, this can prove to be pretty handy as it saves you the hassle of handling payroll, whilst also proving to be more cost-effective as you typically only pay for what you need rather than the expensive fixed fees charged by recruitment agencies.


agency fees

The cost of paying a temp agency

Forgive us if this sounds like a bit of a cop-out, but with so many temp agencies helping staff the tradesman industry, and with so many factors to consider, it goes without saying that agency costs can be widely varied.

As with any investment, we recommend doing some research first and getting at least several quotes to help you choose one that represents real value for your money.


worker or temporary employee

Worker or temporary employee – what’s the difference?

If you do decide to go down the temp agency route, the person you take on will be classed as a worker and not an employee. Whilst there are some differences, it’s important to note that your new recruit still has rights under the Agency Worker Regulations.

This means they’re still entitled to receive at least the National Minimum Wage, breaks during their working day, and even paid annual leave. It also means they’re protected under the same regulations regarding health and safety, discrimination, and illegal wage deductions as everyone else.

If your agency worker stays with you for 12 continuous weeks, they’ll then be entitled to all the same things that they would be if you’d hired them as contracted staff at the same level. That means that if you have two people doing the same work, one who’ve you employed and one who you took on through an agency, they’ll be both be entitled to the same pay, paid annual leave, and other benefits, as well rights that are protected by law.

Meanwhile, a temporary employee you take on directly (or possibly through a recruitment agency) will usually join you on a fixed-term contract. In that case, they become your employee and work with you until an agreed end date (or until whenever the project is finished) under conditions outlined in an actual contract.

Again, remember that things like National Minimum Wage requirements, health and safety regulations and anti-discriminatory practices still apply.


employer's liability insurance

One more thing – don’t forget your employer’s liability insurance!

Yes, even you’re only taking someone on temporarily, you still need to make sure you’re well protected in case of injury or illness caused to your temporary staff as a result of their work.

So, before you go bringing in those much-needed helping hands, make sure you’re covered for any eventuality.


Have you taken on temporary employees recently? What challenges did you face and which hiring routes did you find most effective? Let us know in the comments below or join in the discussion on Facebook or Twitter.

Tradesman Saver also provides insurance for tradesmen covering a wide variety of professions, as well as insurance for self-employed professionals. For further information, please see our Tradesman InsuranceSelf-Employed  Insurance or Who We Cover pages.

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