3 Things You Need to Know When Hiring Seasonal Workers

By Myranda Mondry, TSheets.

Many retailers rely on seasonal employees to meet increased shopper demand during the busy summer and holiday months. But seasonal employees also alleviate the stress placed on their permanent counterparts during those busier seasons. They work irregular hours, they cover the store while the full-timers take paid time off, and they tend to take on the more mundane tasks, like running the cash register and packing boxes in the backroom.

Employers have the benefit of being clear with seasonal employees from the start — employees know their positions are temporary. Employees also understand they aren’t eligible for many of the same benefits permanent employees enjoy, like holidays off or scheduling flexibility.

And while it’s not a federal requirement of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to provide those employee benefits to seasonal workers, it is a requirement to abide by overtime, minimum wage, and child labor laws — no matter the employee’s status.

Under the watchful eyes of FLSA requirements, your seasonal employees are still employees, and they deserve to be paid fairly. So, when hiring these employees, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Seasonal employees are eligible for overtime.

Under federal law, if your employees work more than 40 hours per week, they are eligible for overtime pay — even if that overtime work isn’t authorized or approved. Failing to pay overtime could result in a serious (and seriously expensive) FLSA lawsuit.

Some states, such as California, have even more stringent overtime laws that must be obeyed by employers within those states. If you’re unsure of the overtime laws in your own state, check with your employment counsel. After all, keeping track of state laws is their job!

But what if you’ve hired a seasonal employee to work only 20 hours per week? If they work more than their scheduled 20 hours, are they eligible for overtime pay?

The answer is no. FLSA overtime regulations are based on a full-time work schedule. Employees must work more than 40 hours per week to earn overtime pay.

  1. Seasonal employees are required to be paid at least the minimum wage.

Seasonal employees must be paid the state or federal minimum wage — whichever is higher. This applies whether your seasonal employees are paid hourly, paid a commission or piece-rate, or paid by the season.

No matter how you pay your employees, it’s important to invest in an employee time tracking system that will accurately track employee working hours.

When you know how many hours your employees are working, you can quickly and easily determine whether or not they are earning at least the minimum wage per hour — and avoid a costly lawsuit.

  1. Seasonal employees under the age of 18 are subject to child labor laws.

Many seasonal employees are high school or college students hoping to make a little extra money during their summer or holiday break. Knowing this, FLSA child labor laws are important to keep in mind when hiring and scheduling underage employees.

For example, employees aged 14 and 15 years can only work outside of school hours at nonhazardous jobs for a limited amount of time. Sixteen and 17-year-olds are able to work longer shifts with more flexible hours, but they cannot work in an occupation deemed hazardous by the Secretary of Labor.

If you’re not sure if “operating a forklift” is considered hazardous, check with your employment counsel — or keep those underage workers on the cash register.

Myranda Mondry is a writer and researcher at TSheets, based in Boise, Idaho. She has a Journalism degree from Boise State University and a passion for helping small businesses succeed. In her spare time, she can be found curled up with a good book or hiking Boise’s famous foothills.

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