One issue that comes up for many employers in the summer is hiring seasonal workers. Hiring temporary seasonal employees presents some substantial legal traps for the unwary. Employers should assess their seasonal hiring practices to ensure compliance with various state and federal laws. In other posts, we advised you on the issues in hiring interns and minors, but here are some other issues employers should look out for when hiring seasonal workers:
- Verify employees are legally permitted to work in the U.S.
- Make sure you are following the rules when classifying a seasonal worker as an “independent contractor” versus an employee. For some help from the IRS on how it differentiates between the two, click here.
- Determine the proper wage that must be paid, including if the youth minimum wage may apply.
- Determine when overtime pay is required.
- Evaluate whether hiring seasonal employees triggers other legal obligations. For example, whether hiring the seasonal employees now brings your business above a threshold number of employees, triggering certain laws (e.g., Family and Medical Leave Act, Affordable Care Act, etc.).
These are just a few of the issues with employing seasonal workers. Employers should also take care to adequately inform seasonal employees of the temporary nature of the employment so they do not try to later assert any promissory estoppel or quasi contract claims when the relationship ends. A written acknowledgment signed by the temporary employee at the start of the employment is often useful in this regard.