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25 September 2018

Ramping Up Your Seasonal Help? Don’t Forget These Rules

Ramping Up Your Seasonal Help? Don’t Forget These Rules

Can you believe we’re on the cusp of the holidays? Can you smell the pumpkin spice in the air?  If your business ramps up for the holiday rush, you likely already have your wheels spinning on hiring part-time seasonal help. But to avoid future problems (fines, labor complaints, and audits), you need to be on top of the latest employment and tax regulations.

Before adding to your workforce, be sure you’re following the rules when it comes to:

Independent contractors. It can be tempting to classify seasonal workers as independent contractors to avoid employment taxes and other regulations but doing so fraudulently can land you in very hot water. A worker who must report to work at a specific time, do a job in a specific way, and use equipment owned by the business is likely an employee and will not pass the independent contractor test set by either the IRS or the Texas Workforce Commission. If you choose to classify workers as independent contractors, be prepared to defend your position.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Most seasonal employees are non-exempt, which means certain FLSA standards apply to them that may not apply to your regular salaried employees. These rules include minimum wage, overtime and holiday pay, breaks, sick leave, and records and recording. Review FLSA guidelines for seasonal employees to ensure your non-exempt workers are covered. And keep in mind: workers under the age of 18 have special protections under FLSA law. So, when temporarily employing minors who are between 14 and 17 years of age, be sure to meet the standards for youth employment.

I-9 forms: Form I-9 penalties increased this year, including fines up to $3,695 for unfair immigration-related practices. Worksite enforcement efforts and I-9 audits have increased, too. These forms—which are necessary for all employees—changed at the beginning of 2017. To avoid penalties, be sure you’re following the current process for I-9 completion, including E-Verify requirements.

OSHA regulations. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) places special importance on the health and safety of temporary workers and will fine violators accordingly. That’s because employees in their first month on the job have more than three times the risk for a lost-time injury than longtime workers. Take the health and safety of seasonal workers seriously by paying close attention to the OSHA standards that apply to them.

Local employment ordinances. Be aware of local ordinances that may affect temporary workers. For instance, San Antonio recently passed a sick leave ordinance that may apply to more workers than were covered in your current paid time off policy. Texas legislators are currently debating the issue and it may be overturned but it could just as easily go into effect with little fanfare or warning. Local talk of minimum wage increases and predictive scheduling ordinances aren’t out of the question, either.

Ramping up with seasonal workers can be a great way to handle the holiday rush, just do so wisely to avoid unexpected costs and penalties. For questions on how compliance—or penalties for noncompliance—could affect your books, feel free to contact us.

Image Copyright: 123rf.com/Manuel Faba Ortega

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