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Avoiding Seasonal Employment Pitfalls: Legal Compliance Guide

Does your business need seasonal help to support business operations during peak season times?  Hiring seasonal employees provides a fresh set of hands, plus they can provide new talent and fresh perspectives.  However, there are some legal considerations to keep in mind to avoid seasonal employment pitfalls.

Understanding Labor Laws is Crucial

It is important to familiarize yourself with local, state, and federal labor laws that govern seasonal employment.  This includes minimum wage, overtime pay, and child labor laws, as well as any specific rules for seasonal or temporary workers.  You will still need to comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act which establishes minimum wage, overtime pay eligibility, recordkeeping, and child labor laws.

Avoid Costly Penalties and Lawsuits

Employers can face a number of penalties and lawsuits if they fail to comply with labor laws and regulations when hiring seasonal help.  Some of the costlier penalties and lawsuits include overtime violations, minimum wage violations, the misclassification of employees, child labor violations, discrimination and harassment claims, failure to provide breaks and meals, inadequate record keeping, violation of leave laws, safety violations, and breach of contract laws.

Regularly reviewing and updating seasonal employment policies can help prevent potential fines and legal issues.

Stay Updated on Changing Regulations

Seasonal employment regulations will continue to update or change.  It is important to ensure compliance and effective human resource management at all times.  There are newsletters and journals specific to HR and employment law that provide timely updates on changes in regulations.  Government websites will also post changes or updates to employment law.  There are also HR associations and organizations that provide members with the latest info on regulatory changes.

Properly Classify Employees and Contractors

It is crucial to properly classify seasonal workers as employees or independent contractors.  Some employers mistakenly believe they can classify seasonal employees as independent contractors due to their temporary status.  The fact is, that employers must satisfy specific federal and state tests to qualify, such as the IRS Common Law Test.  The criteria look at the nature of the work and the amount of control the employer has over the individual when determining employment status.

Protect your Business' Reputation

It is important to comply with all seasonal employee regulations in order to protect your business’ reputation.  Your organization’s image and reputation are major drivers of customer loyalty, confidence, and retention.  Also, businesses with strong, positive reputations attract better seasonal and long-term employees.

Does your business need seasonal employees?  While the benefits can be many, there are also legal pitfalls that all employers need to watch out for.  I’m Rob Robinson, and I have spent over 30 years practicing labor law.  I can advise you on best practices while hiring seasonal help and what to watch out for in new regulations that may affect your employment process.  Before you hire your seasonal workforce, please contact my office to learn more about the complexities and hidden risks of seasonal hiring.

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