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How can small businesses attract seasonal help?

Many employers across the country are having trouble attracting talent, even for their year-round positions. Employers often face more challenges in getting seasonal employees during the holiday rush. In some situations, they may need to change the way they attract workers when demand may be higher than usual for the same workers.

Many employers are simply offering to pay seasonal workers more. More traditional benefits like health care, longer-term bonuses, and retirement plans are often less attractive to workers who know their position is temporary or part-time from the start. Instead of offering these kinds of benefits, employers might want to get a bit more creative.

Offering unique perks, like theater and concert tickets, sports outings, free meals, and other tempting fringe benefits, might help draw potential employees. For example, if a seasonal worker meets certain goals, they may earn a bonus or additional rewards. You may want to make sure your agreement with seasonal employees clearly establishes these details, as well as the temporary nature of the position.

Where can I find seasonal workers?

Recruiting strategies for seasonal help may look a little different from the usual strategies. In addition to posting traditional job listings online or with your local job board, you may want to try asking your current workforce if they have family and friends who might be a good fit for specific temporary positions. Offering your current employees referral bonuses can help motivate your staff to refer their friends and family to apply. 

You may also want to consider hiring college or high school students who may be available to work during the holiday breaks. Schools often have job boards for their students. Hiring student workers for holiday season help can often lead to re-hiring those same workers for summer help, or when needed.

How can retail businesses make employees feel better about holiday shopping crowds?

Some retail businesses may be struggling to hire because some workers are worried about being around large crowds due to COVID-19. You may be able to alleviate a lot of these concerns by having solid policies in place for both employee and guest safety.

One simple step you can take is to restrict the number of people in your store at any given time. However, if you set strict rules, you may want to hire security rather than require your staff to monitor the door. Guests may have no way of knowing whether they are the third customer in the store or the 30th.

You may also want to create a Vaccination Policy that encourages or requires vaccines. Employers can require workers to prove they have been vaccinated. However, keep in mind that if you use a mandatory policy, you will likely also need to create a policy for those who qualify for an exemption, such as requiring a weekly COVID-19 test.

Private companies might also be able to require customers to prove they have been vaccinated. While the law does not cover every detail in this area, and some states impose restrictions, it is generally legal for a business to require customers to show their vaccination card or otherwise prove they have been vaccinated. If you want to create a policy like this, it is a good idea to consult an attorney before you move forward. These policies can end up hurting businesses if not implemented properly, but they can also be a good way to increase worker and customer safety and confidence.

Other ways you can increase customer and worker safety might include:

  • Encouraging social distancing wherever possible.
  • Using handwashing or hand sanitizing stations.
  • Creating mask policies that make sense for your area.
  • Spreading out worker gathering or working areas for social distancing.

Consider asking workers how they would like to stay safe in light of COVID-19. This conversation may help you not only to create and implement procedures that work, but also to keep employees happy.

Are seasonal employees entitled to sick time or paid sick leave?

To date, there is no federal requirement to provide sick time or paid sick leave for workers generally. However, there might be paid leave requirements if the employee or their family member cannot come to work due to COVID-19. Also, some cities and states require employers to give employees paid sick leave or sick time, even if they are part-time. However, this benefit may not be regulated at all in some areas.

Both full- and part-time employees can usually get paid sick leave for COVID-19. However, they may not be entitled to paid sick leave for any other reason unless you have an internal policy that gives them this benefit or your state or local laws require it. You may want to talk to an attorney to get specific information for your area.

As an employer, you can require employees to get vaccinated. However, you may need to have policies in place for exempt employees. The same is true for hiring only vaccinated workers. While it may not be the best policy to include vaccination status in hiring decisions, letting applicants know about your vaccination policies is a good idea to ensure there are no surprises after hiring an applicant.

In most states, employers can ask whether a potential employee is vaccinated. If the interviewee or applicant is not vaccinated, asking why can cause legal problems, as the reason may be religious or disability related. Sticking to a question with a yes or no answer (for example, "Have you received your COVID-19 vaccination?") may help prevent legal trouble.

In those states with restrictions on asking about vaccine status, or where the law is not clear, employers may want to consult a lawyer to ensure interviewers know what they can and cannot ask. 

If you have more questions about hiring seasonal help, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer network attorney for affordable legal advice.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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