The Do’s and Don’ts of Hiring Temporary or Summer Employees

Many businesses turn to temporary employees during summers or holidays. From offers to onboarding, check out these eight suggestions to consider when employing temps at your small business.

Many businesses turn to temporary employees during summers or holidays. From offers to onboarding, check out these eight suggestions to consider when employing temps at your small business.

By Tim Dimoff

As we near summer, many small businesses hire summer or temporary employees. Some of these employees will have specific skill sets and others may need training. You may also consider hiring independent contractors. In any of these scenarios, it is best to know exactly what constitutes a temporary employee and what are your responsibilities as an employer. Advantages to hiring temporary employees include the help they offer to your permanent staff. Temp employees allow you to find candidates who might be a good fit as permanent employees in the future. However, there are also disadvantages including dealing with adjustment periods, security issues, mistakes, miscommunication and sometimes increased risks of accidents and other issues that must be considered as well.

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The United States Department of Law (DOL) defines a temporary or ‘temp’ employee as one who is hired to work for one year or less with a specific end date which is usually the day when the project the employee was hired to work on is completed, or when the permanent employee they are substituting for returns from their leave.

Federal law states that you cannot hire the same temp employee for more than two consecutive years, but you do have some leeway in the length of a temp employee’s term of employment. If you do decide to keep them for over a year, they may be entitled to benefits. The Dept. of Labor’s 1000-hour rules for temporary employees states that “an employee who works for 1000 hours or more in a single year is eligible to participate in your company’s retirement plan.” This translates into an employee working approximately 20 hours per week.

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If you decide to hire temporary employees, here are some suggestions to consider:

  • Determine your needs and requirements for the job are. Then determine what role the employee will fill, how long you will need them and what qualifications are needed. Create a job description, title and be ready with company information and a company policy manual.
  • Determine if they are seasonal or temporary. Will you need them only during certain times when you have high demand or will you need them for one-time projects?
  • Determine if you are looking to find potential full-time employees.
  • Decide how you will recruit for the job. Do you need a temp agency? Can you find employees thru a professional organization? Do you need to advertise? Will you use social media? Also consider mining local colleges and universities for students looking for temp or seasonal work.
  • Once you decide to hire, conduct a background and financial background check. You can hire outside firms at a reasonable cost to do this for you. It can save you many headaches and money in the long run.
  • Make a formal job offer with the job title, work hours, compensation and start date. This agreement is a legal contract.
  • Have the temp complete an employment eligibility I-9 verification form that verifies their identity and eligibility to work in the United States. Freelance employees and contractors don’t require an I-9.
  • Conduct training as necessary to on-board your temp employees. They need to learn the specifics of the job, as well as your company code of conduct, what is allowed and not allowed, etc.

In the end, hiring temp or seasonal employees can be a boon to many small businesses. Just be sure to follow the steps to protect you, your business and your employees


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