4 ways to navigate seasonal hiring

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Summer is fast approaching and all indicators point to it being a strong season for small business hiring. In fact, 91% of employers who hire hourly workers anticipate hiring the same or more workers this summer — a 17% increase over 2015, a recent survey from SnagAJob found. Small businesses alone reported plans to hire an average of 10 seasonal employees, according to the survey.

While this expected hiring growth is certainly positive, there are many workforce issues small businesses must consider and address, such as compliance with minimum wage and overtime laws for seasonal employees. Even finding the right candidates often poses a challenge. In a recent ADP survey, two in five small businesses felt it was more difficult to fill positions than they expected.

Benefit advisers can play a critical role in helping small businesses navigate these recruitment and compliance issues. Here are four key areas where benefit advisers can work with employers to help ensure their businesses are set up for success this summer:

1) Remind employers to complete the proper paperwork. Hiring any new employee triggers a number of notice, reporting and documentation requirements — even if these employees are just part-time or seasonal. While most employers know they must complete W-4 forms for new employees, it can be easy to forget newer requirements such as ensuring they provide all new hires with a Notice of Coverage Options, which was mandated as a part of the Affordable Care Act.

In addition, seasonal businesses like amusement parks and summer camps can easily run into issues if their workers compensation insurance policies lapse during the off season. Now is the perfect time to check in with clients to ensure their policies are current.

2) Help employers understand employee classifications. Employee classifications can be particularly tricky issues for small businesses. For example, some employers mistakenly believe they can classify temporary workers as independent contractors because of their temporary status. Yet, in reality, employers must satisfy specific federal and state tests, such as the IRS Common Law Test, in order to properly classify a worker as an independent contractor. Similarly, small business owners need to understand the specific rules for determining whether or not interns are entitled to pay.

3) Review the rules for hiring minors. Minors make up a large portion of summer hires and employing workers from this group comes with diverse rules and restrictions. For example, many states require minors to have a work permit or working papers before they may begin employment. Prior to hiring a minor, employers should review their state requirements and ensure the minor obtains the relevant documentation and authorization. Employers also must track and comply with federal and, in some cases, state hour restrictions on minors.

4) Ensure employers develop formal training and orientation programs. Many employers, especially small businesses, only consider providing basic or mandated training to seasonal employees. However, it’s a best practice to provide part-time and seasonal workers with the same amount of training as other new hires on certain topics such as anti-harassment, nondiscrimination and safety policies even if they are not required. In addition, establishing an orientation process that provides all new hires with a full overview of their role and responsibilities can be critical to success, especially for small businesses that only have one season to generate revenue.

While the summer season offers growth opportunities for many small businesses, employers must understand and proactively address key workforce compliance issues as they fill seasonal positions. Benefit advisers have the opportunity to play a strategic, consultative role for small employers seeking to expand their business this summer.

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