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Hiring Temp Workers: 5 Legal Reminders

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

Employing temporary or "temp" workers can often be a great way to fill vacancies in your business, but you'll need to get your legal ducks in a row.

Temps are often hired through staffing or "temp" agencies and may not be actual employees of your business. However, many companies have instituted temp-to-hire policies in which an employee has a short-term contract with that company which may lead to a full-time position.

These are but some of the legal concerns when employing temp workers, but these five legal reminders can help keep your business on the up-and-up:

1. Staffing Agencies May Save Some Time

Staffing or temp agencies work by hiring qualified applicants, "temps," which they then essentially "lease" out to companies who need skilled workers to fill gaps in their workforces. Temp agencies may charge a surcharge of up to 30 percent of a temp's wages, but it may be worth the money not to have to deal with paying or gathering tax information from that person.

2. Don't Treat Temps Like Employees

If you do end up going your own route and hiring an independent contractor to fill in for a temporary employment gap, make sure you don't treat him or her like an employee. And make sure to get a Social Security Number (SSN) or some form of Taxpayer Identification Number, you may need it for sending that outside-agency temp a 1099 MISC form.

Need legal advice on how your small business should operate? Consult with an experienced business attorney about your options.

3. Be Careful with Temp Contracts

In any contract with a temporary worker, make sure that the language specifically distinguishes the worker from your regular employees. Temp contracts via a staffing agency don't usually have this issue, but you may need to pay specific attention to the temp's scope of work (buried somewhere in the boilerplate language).

4. Abide by Minimum Wage and Overtime Requirements

Hourly temp workers are entitled to overtime if they work more than 40 hours per week, and they must be paid at least minimum wage for every hour they work. Forcing temps to work early, late, or through their breaks without paying them will put your business in a legal bind.

5. Follow OSHA Guidelines

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently released guidance on protecting temporary workers in your business. Even though temps may not be employees, their host employers still may be obligated to keep them safe, manage their injuries, and track their health.

If you need further guidance on how to legally accommodate temps, consult with a business attorney.

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