Some common myths about seasonal employees

The month of December brings in the holiday season resulting in the demand for seasonal employees hovering at peak levels. As per the studies conducted by Career Builder, two out of five retailers (43%) have plans to hire seasonal workers during 2014, which is an increase from last year’s 39% in other industries. About 26% are planning to hire seasonal employees during the fourth quarter and about 42% of these companies plan to convert some seasonal staff members into a full time permanent employees. Seasonal staff hiring usually takes place mostly in retail and shipping but nowadays other industries are also opting for seasonal or temporary employees to help them in dealing with the year end business pressures.

Staffing firms or agencies play a very important role in providing seasonal employees to their client companies. Some staffing firms however turns down the seasonal hiring assignments because of extra work that it creates (i.e. payroll, new hire documentation), jobs may be at lower levels, duration issues and not enough revenues that can be made from these positions. In addition, there exist some common myths about seasonal employees that make organizations or employers feeling unsafe about hiring these employees. The most common myths on employing seasonal employees or workers include-

Seasonal workers/employees are independent contractors –A misconception exists that temporary workers are independent contractors but it may not always be. In case, where the person is hired to do the normal work of the business as opposed to a special task that its regular employees do not ordinarily perform then such worker is an employee. A contract employee cannot be termed as an independent contractor.  For an organization to keep a worker off its payroll should hire through a temporary staffing agency.

Where retail sales employees are paid on commission there is no need to track their hours- This statement is not true as there is a narrow overtime exemption for retail sales employees but the employer bears the burden of proving that all conditions of the exemptions have been met. In such case, the employer needs to show proof through accurate time records.

Temporary or seasonal employee cannot sue for discrimination – Suing for discrimination depends on who is responsible for the discrimination or harassment. Under the joint employer theory, both the staffing company and its client are liable to be sued. It also comes down to who controls the facts surrounding the alleged wrongful conduct. All the rules about prompt investigation and remediation of complaints apply equally to all workers/employees on site whether they are “officially” employees or not.