FRA: Halloween HR Headaches

Written by Martha Mitchell
7 September, 2021

Autumn has arrived!  Farm and retail shops are busy preparing for Halloween and pumpkin season.  The ever-growing popularity of ‘experiences’ means that it is a great opportunity to increase footfall.  Although retailers are likely to focus on their attractions, shops, and products we are providing some HR tips to FRA members and retailers for the autumnal season.

Customer Experiences and Zero Hour Contracts

Many farm retailers use Halloween as an opportunity to increase visitors to their shops via their pumpkin patch… we know everyone wants that Insta pic!  Some farm shops host ‘Shocktober’ attractions or ‘Maize Mazes’ all of which often require higher staff levels. Whilst some retailers may be in a position to demand overtime from staff or find that staff naturally agree to work more hours, others have to rely on zero-hours workers.

Zero hours workers should be just that, workers who usually work zero hours a week.  They are generally a bank of staff who can be called upon to work extra hours at short notice.  If a Facebook post goes viral and there’s high demand for a particular day, zero-hours workers can be a great source for staffing.  Most zero-hour workers relish the chance to pick up extra hours.

From an HR perspective, it is crucial that zero-hours workers are not given status as employees.  They should not be given a contract of employment but a zero-hours worker agreement!

The difference between employees and zero-hours workers can be a complex area of employment law but it’s certainly one which can help with and answer any questions.  It’s important to remember that zero-hours workers cannot be prevented from working at other farm shops so if there is a top-secret attraction a better alternative may be to instruct your regular staff to work overtime instead (contract permitting).

If opting for zero-hour workers, the starting point is to ensure that the contract issued is a zero-hours worker agreement and FRA members are entitled to a free template HR helpline.   Call us to discuss or be sent a free download!

Christmas Stock and Clauses in Contracts of Employment?

An increase in customer numbers in October is a great opportunity to tempt customers with Christmas stock also.  It may be that there is just enough on show to encourage customers back in November or December, or it may be that the shop is fully stocked with all Christmas supplies.  Either way, as stock levels increase and job duties vary for Christmas products, it’s important to check your contracts of employment contain the clauses below:

Right to make deductions

The increase in product numbers can sometimes make it quite tight for space during the build-up to Christmas.  A careless or irresponsible employee may cause damage to stock or perhaps fill the counter with incorrectly dated food causing loss to the business.  If the loss can be attributed to an employee’s actions or negligence, employers are entitled to make deductions for that loss from the employee’s wage (if the contract permits).

Right to vary job duties

The increase in stock, product sampling, and deli supplies often means that there is a requirement for everyone to ‘chip in’ with different job roles.  Usually, staff are agreeable to varying their job and Christmas tends to be a great team approach.  It is sensible to ensure that the contracts of employment include a right to vary job duties – just in case there is an awkward employee who refuses to do anything extra!

Staff Discount Entitlements

Staff discount is a great benefit for staff and often enhanced at Christmas (such as from 10% to 15%).  All staff discount rules should form part of the staff handbook, not the contract of employment.

Call us if you’d like more information on a Staff Discount Policy or rules to add to your handbook.


Unfortunately, Christmas can lead to an increase in theft as the purse strings tighten for employees.  Here is a reminder that an employee with over 2 years of service who is suspected of theft (or even caught in the act!) is entitled to a properly convened disciplinary process before their employment is ended.

We can help with details on how to investigate and all template letters and guidance you need!

Employment Law Solutions can help!

FRA Members benefit from 60 minutes of free telephone and email advice every calendar month!  We are an employment law service offering employment law advice for employers. With a wealth of knowledge in curing HR headaches for employers across the UK, Employment Law Solutions can offer comprehensive, stress-free, and pragmatic advice on employment law, including restrictive covenants, post-termination restrictions, and furlough.

The HR Helpline is open Monday-Friday 9 am-5 pm but for other clients, we offer 24/7, 365 guidance with a mission to help you get on with doing what you do best – running your business. Protecting your business will always be our main priority.

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