Tis the season for hiring seasonal and holiday workers. Many employers in the retail and hospitality industries bring in temporary or seasonal workers at this time of year. Seasonal workers can also be hired in a wide variety of other industries as well. If your company is going to be bringing on workers on a temporary basis to handle holiday demand, you need to understand what the rules are that apply to these workers. You don’t want to accidentally violate labor law with your attempt to meet business demands.
The employment law rules applicable to seasonal workers impact many different aspects of hiring, from whether you need to provide healthcare coverage to what the requirements are for paying seasonal workers. Because there are so many different complex rules, you may wish to talk with an employment law attorney to find out what is required of you when bringing on staff to hold jobs just for the season.
There are certain worker protection laws and labor law rules that apply to all workers, whether they are seasonal or otherwise. For example, you are not allowed to discriminate against seasonal workers just as you are prohibited from discriminating against people who you hire on a full time basis. You also cannot incorrectly classify seasonal workers as independent contractors if they are actually employees, and you’re going to have to follow the same rules for verifying work eligibility and withholding taxes from seasonal workers as you go with those who work full-time.
The Department of Labor makes clear that wage and hour requirements also apply to seasonal workers, just as they do to full-time staff members. If you hire seasonal workers, you have to pay at least minimum wage. If the workers are performing work for your company for more than 40 hours per week, you are going to have to pay them overtime.
While these rules all ensure that seasonal workers are treated fairly and appropriately in the workplace, seasonal workers are treated differently in some important ways. For example, there are different rules for “large” companies versus “small” companies on several important workplace issues, including whether an employer is subject to the Family Medical Leave Act and in determining whether an employer is required to either provide health insurance or pay a fine. If you hire seasonal workers, you may be worried about whether these workers could push you over the threshold. The answer is generally no. A seasonal worker who performs work for less than 120 days during the course of a year is not going to count in determining if you’re a large or small company.
If you are considered a large company, however, a seasonal worker who is considered a “full time” worker could become entitled to health insurance. If you’re company is mandated to buy health insurance for full time workers, eligibility is determined based on hours worked over the course of the month. This means an employee who works for your business for just a month or two could be entitled to health insurance during that time unless you limit the employee’s hours worked.