• Seasonal Hiring Best Practices for Municipalities
  • July 4, 2012 | Author: Matthew M. Young
  • Law Firm: Weltman, Weinberg & Reis Co., L.P.A. - Cleveland Office
  • Summer has arrived and with its arrival comes the influx of seasonal workers many municipalities rely upon to keep their infrastructure running smoothly and help supplement summer vacation time for full time employees.  While these temporary workers can offer a good solution to seasonal increases in labor demand, employers should be mindful of the regulatory aspects of hiring seasonal employees and implement some best practices for maintaining these employment relationships.  The following are some of the most common issues facing seasonal employers and some tips on avoiding legal liability through the hiring and employment process.

    Be Aware of the Legal Restrictions on Hiring Minors
    Under Federal and Ohio law, hiring employees under the age of 18 imposes additional requirements and restrictions on employers.  For example, employers must maintain certain records including a complete list of all minors employed by the employer at a particular location and they must post this list in a conspicuous place frequented by the largest number of minor employees.1  In addition, minor employees are prohibited from certain hazardous professions or job functions, such as operating hazardous machinery.  The list of employment restrictions is greater for younger minors. You can find a comprehensive list of restrictions online at the Department of Labor’s site: http://www.dol.gov/dol/topic/youthlabor/hazardousjobs.htm. 2 Moreover, in Ohio, employees under 16 are restricted in the hours they can work.  Employees under 16 may not work before seven a.m. or after nine p.m., with even greater restrictions during the school year.3  Prospective employers should review all applicable minor laws before hiring minors for seasonal employment.

    Communicate Your Municipality’s Employment Policies
    Even though an employee may only be hired for a temporary position, and possibly just for one season, the employee must receive any employee handbooks and policies to the same extent such materials are provided to full-time, year-round employees. This material should include information on personnel policies, job descriptions, appropriate dress codes and the employer’s disciplinary policy along with other concepts customary in an employee handbook.   If these policies are not in place, be sure to seek the advice of an employment lawyer to facilitate the implementation of such policies.  Moreover, these workers must be trained on all business polices including those related to harassment and discrimination.  The employer is responsible for such claims, whether they are made against a full-time employee or a seasonal employee.

    Consider Using an Employment Agency for Temporary Hires
    Many businesses and hiring entities elect to hire their seasonal workforce on their own, with the benefit of potential cost savings.  However, using a staffing company can offer many benefits as well.   Among the benefits/services these staffing companies offer include handling human resources responsibilities, handling payroll, taxes and benefits, providing workers compensation insurance in many cases and generally training the employees it provides on matters such as harassment and discrimination.  Keep in mind that employers still have obligations to temporary employees.  Employers must still comply with all state and federal regulations that impact these employees and are responsible for training them on workplace expectations, rules and policies.  In the event a staffing agency is used, be sure to exercise due diligence by checking with other municipality clients serviced by the staffing company.  Hiring the right staffing agency will ensure a smooth transition when entering into and ending temporary employee relationships.

    Keeping these considerations in mind will help your municipality ensure a successful summer with seasonal hires and avoid the potential for liabilities that accompany such hiring practices.

    1 O.R.C. §4109.08 (A).

    2 See also O.R.C. §4109.05

    3 O.R.C. §4109.07