It is important for employers to keep in mind that seasonal workers—like all workers—come with legal risks, according to Tiffany Miller, an attorney with the law firm of Fisher & Phillips. Even though these workers will only be employed for a brief period of time, dealing with penalties for not following the proper protocol can persist long after the cash registers are closed.
Miller shares these tips with employers:
- Avoid litigation landmines. Federal, state and local laws prohibiting employment discrimination and retaliation apply with equal force to seasonal employees. Accordingly, employers should follow the same steps in hiring seasonal workers as they do for regular employers and make sure that seasonal employees read and understand all antidiscrimination and harassment policies; as always, a signed acknowledgement works best.
- Make it clear. Employers should make the limited duration of employment clear, preferably in writing.
- Provide proper paperwork. Although they are only temporary, seasonal employees must still complete I-9 forms. Additionally, employers should ensure that minor employees have acquired any necessary permits.
- Count seasonal workers. Smaller employers may want to consider that the addition of seasonal employees may push them over the jurisdictional number of employees for some federal laws.
- Keep track. It is especially important for employers to make sure that all state and federal wage and hour laws are diligently followed during the holiday season. This includes ensuring that employees take any required breaks and meal times, and that overtime is accurately recorded and paid. Also, employers should make sure they comply with all wage and hour laws applicable to minor employees.
- Keep it secret. The protection of confidential information should not be overlooked when hiring seasonal employees. If the seasonal employee will have access to confidential or proprietary information of the company, an employer may want to consider entering into a nondisclosure/confidentiality agreement.
Source: Fisher & Phillips, LLP; http://www.laborlawyers.com.