The UK’s hotel and leisure industry will be hit particularly hard if government proposals to give agency workers equal working and employment conditions as permanent staff after 12 weeks on the job go ahead, an employment lawyer says.

Wedlake Bell partner David Israel said the hotel and leisure industry traditionally relies on a vast number of seasonal temporary staff.

“What was a very flexible industry is facing major challenges brought on by measures imposed by the government this year, the agency workers proposals will add to the industry’s burdens,” he said.

“In many cases, a typical hotel ‘season’ – a busy time of year when hotels employ an increased number of temporary staff to deal with greater needs – lasts longer than the 12-week mark.

“This means that the new proposals will hugely disrupt normal operating practices, often for just small deviations from the 12-week cut-off.”

Israel said the new legislation may mean that employers terminate contracts after 11 weeks, to avoid increased costs that will arise with agency workers achieving permanent staff status.

“This surely goes against the intended aim of protecting employees rights in this industry and disregards the fact that many people choose this line of work for its flexibility.”

By Elizabeth Clifford-Marsh