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Employers big and small are gearing up for the holiday rush, and for many that means bringing on additional staff to handle the workload. And while bosses may think there's less risk in hiring an employee for a few weeks rather than a few years, temporary and seasonal employees can carry long-term legal consequences if not handled properly.
Here are some of the legal considerations you'll want to be aware of if you're hiring holiday staff.
Seasonal staff are still staff, so laws that cover sexual harassment, discrimination, and workplace health and safety will still apply to holiday hires. Make sure your temporary workers are trained on proper workplace etiquette, conduct, and expected performance, and ensure that they are paid properly as required by state and federal wage and hour laws.
Speaking of, remember that simply calling an independent contractor in independent contractor does not necessarily make her such. There are strict requirements for a worker to qualify as an independent contractor and there are harsh penalties for misclassifying employees as contractors. While independent contractors may be exempt from certain employment laws, you'll want to be careful if you are making this designation.
Don't forget that part-time and seasonal employees are subject to the same tax withholding rules that apply to other employees. Often, those withholdings are going to pay for certain benefits that holiday hires may be entitled to, like unemployment, Social Security and Medicare, and worker's compensation insurance. These benefits and tax withholdings can vary by state and can include federal withholdings as well.
Your employees, even if here for the holidays, can be a permanent reflection of you and your business, and you could be legally liable as an employer for their actions. Make sure you conduct thorough background checks on your seasonal workers before bringing them on board, and make sure those background checks are legal.
Talk to an experienced employment law attorney before hiring your holiday staff.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.