Guide to Hiring Temporary Employees for SMEs

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Committing to full-time, permanent staff can be a major decision for SMEs. One alternative is to take on temporary employees to help your business fill employment gaps. 

While there are many advantages to this, you also need to be very careful with how you take on temporary employees. If you do not have a clear temporary contract in place, your business may be liable for certain permanent employment responsibilities.

Why Hire Temporary Employees?

Hiring temporary employees can offer various benefits to SMEs. Most importantly, temporary employees don’t require the same level of commitment and risk as permanent employees. This makes it more affordable and easier to take on staff. 

You might need temporary employees if your business experiences seasonal demands, if you need to quickly plug gaps in your staff, or if you need to find a specialist skill for a limited time. 

Small businesses can also make temporary hires, with the possibility of turning them into permanent employees if the arrangement works out.

How to Hire Temporary Employees 

If you’re interested in hiring temporary employees, then you need to understand the different legal responsibilities around hiring, and what kinds of different employment contracts exist. 

South Africa’s Labour Relations Act states that if a company employs someone for longer than three months, then they would be defined as an “indefinite period employee” – i.e. a permanent employee. Your business would then be liable to face unfair dismissal charges if you suddenly end the employment agreement. 

This is why it’s so important to use the right type of contact when taking on temporary employees.  Here are three common strategies you can use to do this.

Work With Freelancers/Contractors

Your business can contract a freelancer to provide work temporarily. Because the freelancer essentially runs their own business, they are not permanently employed by the company Instead, the company outsources their services, which they are invoiced for. It is then the responsibility of the freelancer to pay their taxes.

Work With Temporary Employment Agencies

SMEs can reach out to temporary employment agencies to help them fill certain roles. These agencies can supply the right candidates, and create temporary employment contracts to keep the business and the temporary employee safe. 

Work With Consultants

Consultants are a type of independent contractor that can work with a business. They typically provide services for a defined period and help to provide specialised skills and knowledge to a business that needs temporary help.

When hiring temporary employees, you’ll need to make sure your business has a reliable line of communication with the employee, and that you have a clear agreement in place. Ensure everyone involved understands the nature of the temporary employment agreement, and that you know how and when the employment period will be terminated. 

Figuring out a reliable temporary employment system could help many SMEs access the skills, knowledge, and help that they need without facing the risks of hiring permanent staff.

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