Engaging casual workers

The University is committed to ensuring that all members of its workforce are engaged on the most appropriate contract and that this engagement is completed in a transparent and fair way.

The University recognises the need for flexibility within its workforce to cover activities which may be variable and unpredictable.  Where a department identifies such work, it may be appropriate to engage a casual worker.

Casual workers may be engaged to provide:

  • Occasional or short term cover,
  • Additional support for seasonal or fluctuating demands in work,
  • Non-permanent or intermittent services as and when required.

Before engaging an individual to undertake work within the University, please use the payment decision tree.  This tool has been develop to support you to determine the appropriate contract of employment and method of payment for services delivered to the University by an individual, or individuals, acting in their own right or employees of an organisation or business.

Employment status

Understanding employment status

Before engaging a casual worker, it is important to understand how their employment status differs from that of an employee.

For a contract of employment (employee status) to exist, three key elements must be present:

  • the individual must be under an obligation to perform the work personally;
  • there must be “mutuality of obligation” between the parties; and
  • the employer must have sufficient rights of control over the employee.

The difference between an employee and a casual worker is that there is no mutuality of obligation present;

  • the casual worker is not obliged to accept any offer of work and may refuse any offer of work without repercussions and;
  • the University is not obliged to provide work to the casual worker;
  • the availability of work will be subject to fluctuations/unpredictability;
  • there will be significant breaks between engagements;
  • the offer of work may be withdrawn at short notice if the work is no longer required e.g. if a class is cancelled.

If a casual worker was to be offered regular or guaranteed hours with the expectation of them accepting such work, it is likely that the relationship would change to that of an employee.

As a casual working relationship may change over time, it is essential that managers regularly review these arrangements to ensure the individual has the appropriate employment status.  The manager or the worker can initiate discussions to review the pattern and type of work which has and will be offered in line with determining the appropriate contract type.

Should you have any queries about employment status, please contact your Faculty HR Team Contact.

Employment summary

Key features

Key features of the relationship

A Registration Agreement for Casual Work may be appropriate to use if the following features apply:

  • There is no guarantee or expectation of continued work.
  • It is understood that any offer of work may be withdrawn.
  • It is understood and accepted that individuals can refuse any work offered without penalty* and that this is allowed to happen in practice.
  • It is understood and accepted that individuals could withdraw their service without penalty*, prior to starting a work session, even after agreeing to it.
  • It is understood by both parties that once an engagement has begun, there is an expectation that it is completed by the individual.
  • The level of demand for work is variable and may fluctuate, and is not guaranteed or agreed far in advance.
  • Each period of work or work session is of a short duration and termination of each session is agreed in advance, normally by reference to a date.
  • There are typically breaks of at least 1 week between each period of work, and no obligations (i.e. to either offer or accept further engagements) between periods of work.

However, once an individual has accepted and commenced the engagement, the expectation is that:

  1. Work is completed by the contracted individual, with no right of substitution during the session;
  2. During the engagement the individual cannot temporarily or permanently withdraw their services without notice.

If all of the above are features of the arrangement are present then there should be no employment relationship between periods of work, and a `Registration Agreement for Casual Work´ could be used.

*’without penalty’ means without the threat of, or actual removal of their registration to undertake other casual work simply for rejecting work.

Employment rights and statutory obligations

Principal individual rights associated with contract: Unless the employment relationship type changes over time, can only obtain List A rights. See Employment rights summary.  However, during each engagement they would also be eligible for List B and C rights, subject to fulfilling defined criteria.

University statutory obligations

Immigration & Preventing Illegal Working: The offence of employing a person subject to immigration control (Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006) applies. Civil penalty of up to £20,000 per illegal employee, and knowingly employing someone illegally is a criminal offence with a potential prison sentence or unlimited fine.

Pre-placement Checks: Health checks and criminal record checks (where relevant), are processed by Human Resources with the applicant prior to confirmation of appointment.

Health & Safety: Workers are in the scope of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA), and the common law provisions.

Equal Opportunities: In line with the University’s commitment to equality all employees are required to conduct themselves in a manner consistent with and follow the Equal Opportunities Policy and Code of Practice for Staff.

Authorisation of engagement

Recruitment process: For all recruitment and engagement activity undertaken by engaging department, please see the process for engaging casual workers.  Please note the process differs when engaging student casual workers.

Financial authorisation: Requires prior approval from the Head of Department. It is an engaging department’s responsibility to ensure that there are sufficient funds available within their existing budget to pay workers, including for associated benefits (see below).

Responsibility for administration/record keeping: Department to maintain sufficient records relating to each engagement period undertaken by the individual. This also includes all refusals of offers of work / cancelled engagements, etc. (to evidence breaks in employment).

Department to calculate annual leave entitlements, maintain records and arrange payment for annual leave.

Work allocation

Work allocation: Determined by the engaging department.

Pay arrangements

Pay and grading: See wage types and pay rates.

Payment process:  Payments made via submission of claims forms, authorised by engaging department.  Payments are made monthly following the submission of a claim form, with payslips sent to the home address.

Tax treatment: Income tax and NI to be deducted at source.

Other benefits

Staff benefits: Statutory benefits accrue during each engagement period ONLY.  These include:

  • Right to paid annual leave (maximum of 28 days per annum)
  • Eligibility to SSP / SMP / SAP if meeting the relevant criteria
  • Pension Scheme Membership (subject to meeting eligibility criteria)

UCard Allocation: External UCard for those undertaking non-teaching work, Associate UCard for those undertaking teaching-related activity. Departments should request that individuals return their UCards back to the department between engagements.

Induction: An Induction checklist for workers provides the suggested minimum induction. Departments should pay individuals for any time required to undertake induction training.

Development and training: Departments are responsible for ensuring casual workers are equipped and skilled to undertake their role.

Engaging casual workers

Engaging and re-engaging a casual worker

All casual workers should be engaged through the myJobshop system, this includes:

  • students casual workers;
  • non-student casual workers, and;
  • existing University staff undertaking casual work alongside their main University role.

Visit myJobshop to find out how to engage a casual worker

If the individual you wish to engage is an existing employee, please refer to the additional hours/work process.

If the individual you wish to engage is a student, please refer to engaging a student casual worker.

Further Information

IMPORTANT: Determining appropriate contract type
Guidance: Casual Registration Checker
Guidance: Guidance for Managers on Eligibility to Work [ETW]
Checklist: Induction Checklist
Guidance: Annual Leave Arrangements for Casual Workers
Agreement: Registration Agreement for Casual Work

Engaging student casual workers

Engaging student casual workers

All student casuals workers, who are not on the main payroll, should be engaged through the myJobshop system, see myJobshop web pages for more information.

The Student Jobshop team, part of the Careers Service, administers this process.

If you need help or advice on engaging student casual workers, please contact the myJobshop team: studentjobshop@sheffield.ac.uk