Regulations

A woman on a laptop with text reading "The Business Owner’s Guide to Seasonal Employment Laws"

The Business Owner’s Guide to Seasonal Employment Laws

The Business Owner’s Guide to Seasonal Employment Laws 1016 528 Sprockets

If you’re a business owner, there’s a good chance you rely on seasonal workers in one way or another. Retail store operators often need help during the holidays due to the surge of shoppers, and fast-food franchisees can almost always use some additional assistance to keep up with demand. No matter which industry you’re in, however, there are some important seasonal employment laws that you must follow. We’re here to break down the basics and explain what you need to know to run a successful business without any legal hiccups.

Plus, if you’re looking to hire the ideal seasonal workers for your business, we can help with that too! Sprockets’ is an AI-powered platform that empowers you to hire more employees like your top performers. You’ll save time, build more productive teams, and be able to focus on daily tasks rather than the stressful hiring process.

Essential Information About Seasonal Employment Laws

How to Pay Seasonal Employees

Let’s start with some guidance for paying your seasonal employees properly. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) applies to part-time, temporary workers in the same way that it covers full-time, regular employees. That means you must pay non-exempt seasonal staff at least the federal minimum wage, which is $7.25 per hour. Keep in mind that if your state law has a different minimum wage, you must provide them with whichever rate of pay is higher.

Overtime for Seasonal Workers

The FLSA also treats seasonal employees the same as regular employees for the sake of overtime. So, you must pay temporary staff members at least 1.5x the regular rate for any hours they work above the standard 40 per week. It’s important to note, though, that you’re not required to automatically pay them more on weekends or holidays — only if they work overtime on these days. You are also exempt from the overtime requirement if your business falls into certain categories, such as seasonal amusement, organized camps, and non-profit educational institutions.

Note: Make sure you abide by the child labor provisions of the FLSA. Sixteen and 17-year-olds can work unlimited hours, but 14 and 15-year-olds can only work for limited periods of time outside of school hours.

Seasonal Worker Benefits

There’s also the question of whether or not you need to offer the same benefits to seasonal workers as you provide regular staff. This is a tricky one. Under the Affordable Care Act, employees may be entitled to minimum essential health coverage if they work 30 hours per week at your company, especially if you’re considered an applicable large employer (ALE). 

Also, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) only applies to employees who work at least 1,250 hours in a year. While you might need to provide health insurance to seasonal employees under ACA, the typical seasonal employee will not fulfill the requirement for FMLA.

Seasonal Workers Taxes

Make sure you follow the labor laws for seasonal employees when conducting payroll with taxes and withholdings. Seasonal workers are essentially the same as regular employees in this regard. You must withhold for Social Security, Medicare, income tax, and the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA).

Simplify the Seasonal Hiring Process With Sprockets

A seasonal employee at a restaurantYou and your managers have enough to worry about with daily operations — let Sprockets handle the heavy lifting of the seasonal hiring process. Our AI-powered solution augments sourcing efforts with free job postings, screens candidates with background checks at 50% off what typical providers charge, and reveals which applicants will perform like your best workers. You get all these features and more in one convenient, easy-to-use platform that integrates with numerous top HR tools, like TalentReef and JazzHR.

Schedule a free demo today to start hiring the ideal applicants for your business!

People in a business meeting discussing how hiring regulations differ across the country

How Hiring Practices Differ Across the Country

How Hiring Practices Differ Across the Country 2048 1244 Sprockets

Today’s hiring process calls for navigating a minefield of hiring regulations and labor laws that change as often as a typical restaurant staff. Those new-hire packets that you assembled this morning may be obsolete by lunchtime.

There are more protections than ever for job applicants and employers. That’s a good thing, but there are also more opportunities to unwittingly discriminate. Staying on top of the best hiring practices is especially difficult for companies that operate in more than one state.

Why Hiring Regulations & Practices Differ Between States

Multi-state hiring pros contend with multilayered hiring regulations. Federal labor laws are complicated enough, and state laws differ in the level of protection they offer. Hiring in Florida is nothing like hiring in Connecticut. Even cities are getting in on the act.

When you’re new to multi-state hiring, it’s easy to run afoul of some law or other. A simple distraction, like smelling popcorn in the break room or realizing you forgot about jury duty, could result in non-compliance leading to penalties, fines, and judgments.

It gets easier once you’re familiar with common pitfalls.

Employment Applications

All applications should show the protected categories under federal law. After that, it gets tricky. They must also reflect state or local protections that don’t apply under federal law. For instance, many states have their own provisions to address sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. In fact, legislation concerning those two issues is difficult to keep track of. Twenty-one states prohibit discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender preferences. In eight states, the law protects only public employees. In four states, it applies only to public employees and only to sexual orientation. Clearly, the importance of staying informed can’t be overstated.

Ban-the-box laws, also called fair-chance laws, are becoming widespread. On a job application, checking the box to acknowledge past criminal convictions is just asking to be rejected. Many lawmakers feel that’s unduly harsh. Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws that prevent asking about criminal history until later in the hiring cycle – a progressive hiring regulation. In Minnesota and Rhode Island, employers can’t inquire until during or after the first interview. Even some cities, like New York, San Francisco and Philadelphia, have drawn up their own ordinances. In any case, it’s wise to let applicants know that prior convictions don’t necessarily eliminate them.

Efforts to fill the gap between men’s and women’s pay for equal work have led to restrictions on inquiring about salary history. In some states, like Massachusetts (along with a growing list of other states), it’s illegal to bring it up. However, employers may consider it if an applicant volunteers it.

Interviews

Sticking to the applicant’s qualifications is the best policy for guiding an interview. This is for both hiring regulations and best practices on getting the best employee.

Interviewers in all states must ask about eligibility to work in the U.S. However, it’s illegal to ask just because someone appears to be from a foreign country or speaks a primary language other than English. In other words, interviewers must put the same question to everybody. It’s also unlawful to ask about citizenship status or place of birth. Many states mandate the use of E-Verify, a federal hiring tool that provides electronic verification of IDs and documents.

Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers can’t ask for complete medical records. They can’t fish around for how much time off the applicant will need for treatment. They can ask only for documents that support the need for accommodations. Employers may request a job-related physical exam only after making a conditional job offer. Impairments caused by pregnancy, though, such as an aching back, may qualify for certain accommodations under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.

Credit Checks

Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland and Washington are a few of the states that have outlawed credit checks as a condition of employment. New York City has as well. For most jobs, credit history is irrelevant. Also, in some regions, credit checks could potentially foster racial bias.

There may be exemptions built in for jobs that require handling large amounts of cash.

Drug Testing

This was far more cut-and-dried before marijuana was legalized for medicinal use in 31 states. In Connecticut, for instance, you can’t refuse to hire someone based on medical marijuana use. When a job seeker with a valid medical marijuana card tests positive, the employer must follow a state law compliance plan.

Testing for other drugs or alcohol is all over the map, but most states have restrictions. Examples include testing only after making a conditional job offer or only when the position is safety-sensitive.

Social Media

In 26 states, employers cannot require a password, a friend request, or a change in privacy settings as a condition of employment. Employers must also refrain from peeking over an applicant’s shoulder if she’s following Facebook or Twitter during her interview. Believe us. That happens.

Predictive Scheduling

Oregon and a handful of cities have recently passed an unusual law. Employers in hospitality, retail and food-service industries — in which hours and therefore income can be unpredictable — must provide applicants with a good-faith estimate of the number of hours they can expect. Employers must pay workers a certain amount if shifts are suddenly canceled.

Let’s hope that makes a dent in the hospitality sector’s whopping 70 percent turnover rate.

Some multi-state companies make all this easy on HR by standardizing hiring practices according to the state with the most protections. Texas labor laws, for example, don’t address sexual orientation. A Texas company that also operates in California might adopt California’s policies to keep things simple.

How Sprockets Can Help

By some estimates, getting people hired in the U.S. costs around $300 billion a year. We at Sprockets are doing our part to keep your hiring costs low, boost your productivity, and make your life easier.

Finding talent can cost up to $250 per person at traditional assessment companies, and there are no guarantees that the top candidate is a perfect fit who will stick around. This is especially true of applicants for high-turnover positions. But, Sprockets’ Applicant Matching System costs just $99 per month for unlimited assessments while boosting employee engagement and reducing employee turnover.

What makes our assessment process unique?

First, we don’t presume to know more than you do about who will perform well in your company. That’s why we assess your own best people first.

We then identify their shared characteristics to create a success profile. All potential candidates are weighed against that benchmark. We screen for the best matches, which saves you the hassle of sifting through resumes and interviewing unsuitable prospects.

Best of all, we charge just $99 per month for unlimited assessments at all levels. Our hiring tool also reduces turnover, which saves even more money.

Companies of all sizes and hiring budgets count on Sprockets. Our system is backed by Watson AI, and it gets better all the time.

With hiring regulations and practices varying wildly from state to state, you have plenty to do already. We guarantee that no one we recommend will be tweeting on your valuable time.

Plus, learn why our clients love Sprockets.