With summer just around the corner, now is the perfect time for business owners to refresh themselves on the legal issues surrounding summer hiring.
Before business heats up in the summer, consider these legal tips when hiring seasonal employees:
Start your hiring search early. The early bird gets the worm. But more importantly, the early bird doesn't get the lawsuit. Legal disputes can arise from poorly drafted employment contracts and hasty job interviews, just to name a few common pitfalls.
Be careful about hiring teenagers. When school's out for the summer, it's convenient for business owners to hire teens to save money and increase temporary staffing for the season. But be careful. Teens are often covered by different employment laws.
Be careful about "hiring" unpaid interns, too. In this economy, it's becoming more common for businesses to take on unpaid interns. The experience can be mutually beneficial. But it's important to remember that in the name of labor laws (and common decency), unpaid interns can't just be free labor. If you're concerned about the law, look to the Labor Department. The agency issues and enforces rules for using unpaid interns.
Know how to provide a safe working environment. Even though seasonal employees have to hit the ground running, you need to make time to keep them safe. Provide safety training to make sure they understand workplace risks and hazards and what to do if they are injured on the job. And make sure you comply with all OSHA requirements.
Don't cut corners. Play by the rules. Part-time, temporary, or seasonal employees are covered by both Federal and state laws. Where your state laws are more restrictive, you will need to follow state law. Generally, all the federal protections regarding minimum wage and worker safety apply equally to full-time and seasonal/part-time workers. The law doesn't have summer hours. No paying seasonal employees under the table!