‘Tis the season for holiday hiring. As retailers prepare for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, many have already staffed up this season, and others have virtual “now hiring” signs in the windows. Last year, seasonal retail employment increased by more than 668,000 during the final three months of the year, and this year is predicted to be just as strong. While many employers hire seasonal workers, not all may be fully aware of the regulations surrounding such employment.
Despite being temporary or part-time, many of the laws and regulations that apply to full-time employees also apply to seasonal or part-time employees including:
- Anti-harassment, discrimination and retaliation laws
- Disability laws
- Workplace health and safety regulations
- Wage and hour laws (minimum wage, overtime pay, record keeping and child labor)
- State laws concerning sick leave
- State background check laws
Here are five tips for smooth holiday hiring that will make for happy workers and keep your business out of legal trouble this holiday season.
1. Communicate Clear Expectations
Before hiring seasonal workers, make sure they understand your expectations for the position and length of employment. Clear communication can help prevent temporary employees from misunderstanding the terms of the position and leaving early or without warning.
At a minimum, clearly communicate the following in writing:
- Duration of employment (i.e. start date and finish date)
- Anticipated hours of work per week
- Pay rate
- Job description
If there is an opportunity for an employee to be retained beyond the season, communicate that during the hiring process but explain it’s not a guarantee. Some employers offer bonuses for employees who stay until the end of the season as incentive for dependability. If you end up retaining a seasonal employee beyond the season for which he or she was hired, assess whether additional paperwork needs to be completed, especially if the employee has become eligible to receive benefits.
2. Check Local Laws Regarding Benefits and Time Off
Many cities and states now require employers provide their employees with paid time off. Typically, employees accrue paid time off for sick or family leave based on the number of hours they work. Check whether any such laws apply to your business, as even seasonal and part-time employees may be eligible. Seasonal employees are generally entitled to the following benefits:
- Social Security and Medicare (this includes withholding Social Security and Medicare taxes from wages and paying the employer's matching amount)
- Workers' compensation benefits
Additionally, temporary employees may be eligible to receive health and other benefits under your plan documents. Employees who work 30 hours or more per week may need to be offered healthcare coverage under the Affordable Care Act. To avoid penalties, you should carefully ensure all benefits for which an employee may be eligible are provided to him or her.
3. Complete the Proper Form I-9
The USCIS issued a new Form I-9 last summer, which became the mandatory version for new employees. However, you may be able to reverify an older Form I-9 depending when you rehire an employee. For example, Form I-9 may be reverified when an employee is rehired within three years of completing the I-9 for your company. Be sure to review the Form I-9 instructions for further details on rehires and reverification.
4. Review Timekeeping Procedures
Hiring a fresh batch of help is a good opportunity to review minimum wage laws and verify whether employees are accurately keeping time and receiving overtime pay. Remind all managers and employees that all time worked must be recorded, and foster a culture in which these rules are carefully followed. It is acceptable for you to require your employees to obtain permission before working overtime, but even unapproved overtime must be paid to avoid a violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
5. Conduct HR Training
As a general rule, hold seasonal employees to the same standards as regular employees, and include seasonal workers in all meetings with full-time employees.You should provide at least basic anti-discrimination and anti-harassment training to all new employees. It is also important to ensure every employee has a copy of the company policies and procedures and knows how and to whom to make a complaint if necessary.
For more holiday hiring guidance, plus details on holiday pay and bonus questions, watch FrankCrum’s free webinar: An Employer’s Guide to Planning the Holidays.