‘Tis the season to hire summer help. The days are longer and warmer and those high school and college students are suddenly out in droves looking for seasonal work. Hiring summer help can be an amazing experience for both employers and students, but it critical to handle it properly. Following are a couple of pitfalls to avoid.
Improper Designation: Seasonal Employees v. Seasonal Workers
The status of an employee as seasonal or part-time depends upon the number of hours they work over a period of time. This classification really matters as it requires different benefits in order to be ACA (Affordable Care Act) compliant. In order to be legally considered a “seasonal employee,” the job must be anticipated to last less than six months.
There is a further distinction between legal definitions of a “seasonal employee” versus a “seasonal worker.” The “seasonal worker” is defined as an employee that has worked no more than four months or 120 days during the previous year. Read HERE for more details on this distinction.
These classifications matter in that “seasonal workers” are added into the total employees that determine whether a company is an ALE (Applicable Large Employer) and is therefore subject to the ALE requirements for the ACA. It’s also critical to be careful in these designations as misclassifying employees/workers may result in significant penalties. For more information about designations as an Applicable Large Employer – https://www.irs.gov/affordable-care-act/employers/determining-if-an-employer-is-an-applicable-large-employer
Not only does an employer need to consider the worker classification, the age of seasonal workers/employees also influences summer employment.
Lack of Compliance: Child Labor Laws
In the state of Illinois, teen workers aged 14-15 must have a work permit (employment certificate) in order to be hired. They will need a “Letter of Intent to Hire” from an employer that outlines responsibilities and hours. The student and parent will then take the letter, birth certificate, social security card, and doctor’s report of physical exam to their school in order to request a work permit. It is a violation of Illinois’ child labor laws to proceed with employment without obtaining this employment certificate.
However, it is worth noting that even WITH the proper permit, the work time of students 14-15 is limited by the Illinois Department of Labor. During non-school periods, 14-15 year olds may NOT work…
- More than 8 hours/day.
- More than 6 days/week.
- More than 48 hours/week.
- Prior to 7:00 AM
- After 9:00 PM
In addition, students ages 14-19 are prohibited from working in certain hazardous occupations. For a list of these hazardous occupations and other details, read a full description of of laws governing child labor from the Illinois Department of Labor.
Hiring seasonal employees, particularly students, can be a huge blessing for a business AND for the student. It gives important experience to our future workers, while providing extra help during busy seasons. However, misclassifying seasonal employees/works or violating child labor laws are real dangers that businesses must carefully navigate.
At Compass Insurance Partners, we would be honored to help you walk through your plans for summer employment to help you avoid these pitfalls. Make the summer work experience a great one for both your business and your seasonal employees!
photo licensed by Adobe Stock.