Summer brings seasonal talent challenges to small employers
With summer comes more sunshine – as well as seasonal workers and interns.
Particularly in the summer, smaller employers often look to fill positions with former seasonal employees. According to Aldor H. Delp, division vice president and general manager of Resource and HR Solutions, ADP, LLC, the first step to success is for those small employers to contact potential employees as early as possible.
“Early recruitment has become increasingly important in recent years as the economy improves and workers have more job opportunities,” Delp says. “Small businesses that plan to hire former employees should get in touch with these workers as soon as possible to secure their commitment for another season.”
Small businesses also need to understand the laws impacting seasonal employees. Since many summer hires are minors, small businesses must be aware of the federal and state rules for this group, which could impact the amount and type of work they’re allowed to do. For example, minors have restrictions on hours worked and work permit requirements.
Small businesses must also understand the laws around classifications for temporary workers and the specific rules for determining whether or not interns are entitled to pay. Delp warns, however, that the Department of Labor regards most internships as “employment” for purposes of protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
It’s time to get social
So where can businesses find their summer help? Delp says social media platforms have become a great end-to-end resource for employers to connect with potential applicants. Though estimates differ (in 2012, Jobvite found that 92% of U.S. employers reported recruiting via social media, while in 2015 Careerbuilder reported 52% of employers using social media in recruiting), recruiting via social platforms is here to stay.
It’s important to remember, Delp explains, that just being present on social media is not enough – businesses must first understand the space and then plot the strategy that will work best for them to attract summer employees. For instance, he says, Facebook is considered a better option than LinkedIn for targeting new entrants to the workforce.
Legal issues to consider
Delp notes there are several compliance issues that employers need to think about when hiring seasonal workers and interns. He offers three key compliance issues to manage:
- Complete the proper paperwork. Hiring any new employee triggers a number of notice, reporting and documentation requirements (e.g. W-4s and I-9s) – even if these employees are just part-time or seasonal. A new requirement businesses are still getting used to notes that they must provide all new hires with a Notice of Coverage Options, which was mandated as a part of the Affordable Care Act.
- Understand employee classifications. Employee classifications can be particularly tricky for small businesses. For example, as Delp noted, there are specific rules for determining whether or not interns may be exempted from the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime protections. Additionally, some employers may believe they can classify temporary workers as independent contractors. Yet, in reality, employers must satisfy specific federal and state tests in order to properly classify a worker as an independent contractor.
- Review the rules for hiring minors. Many states require minors to have a work permit or working papers before they may begin employment. Employers must ensure the minor obtains the relevant documentation and authorization before they can begin work. Employers also must track and comply with federal and, in some cases, state hour restrictions on minors.
Delp says that while it’s not always necessary, consulting employment counsel about issues such as classifications or wage and hour requirements before making summer/seasonal hires can be a worthwhile investment in ensuring compliance with all federal and state laws.
Related but separate from those legal issues, Delp says one of the best ways to ensure a productive seasonal workforce is to offer these employees formal orientation and training.
“Regardless of whether the employee is part-time, full-time or temporary, providing effective training is essential,” he says, adding that part-time and temporary employees should generally receive the same training as other new hires in the areas of anti-harassment, nondiscrimination, safety and other important workplace issues – even if they are not required.
Additionally, if employees will be working outside during the summer, employers should provide tips for staying safe in the sun and heat (e.g., information on staying hydrated, taking regular breaks in the shade and seeking protection from ticks and mosquitoes).
Finally, businesses should factor in their regular, year-round workers in the seasonal recruiting and hiring process.
“Small businesses should make sure they prepare existing employees for the arrival of new employees by outlining the assignments the new workers are hired to complete and the resources available to help them get up to speed,” Delp says.