If your small business is one that gets especially busy during the holiday season, you can plan for success early by hiring seasonal employees. You might be surprised at how a little extra help can boost sales, increase profits, and make your life as a business owner less hectic during an already busy time of year. Here are a few rules that apply when hiring seasonal employees:
- All labor laws still apply. Laws that cover harassment, discrimination, and workplace health and safety apply to seasonal workers just as they do to any other employee. If you’re not familiar with these, this Employment and Labor Law Guide for small businesses is a good reference point.
- Consider hiring seasonal employees as contractors. If you’re running an online business and need some help managing your blog or social media accounts, you can hire an independent contractor without actually making them an employee. A contractor normally works as a less supervised member of your team. Keep in mind, you hire a contractor to do a job for you, but they are not technically your employee. As such, you aren’t required to provide benefits, withhold tax/Medicare/Social Security, or pay unemployment taxes. You also can’t dictate the hours the contractor works. However, you are required to report compensation of $600 or more to the IRS (more on this here). Be sure to outline the details and length of the contract before work begins.
- You still have to withhold taxes. Despite popular opinion, seasonal employees should not be paid “under the table,” even if you’re just paying them to hang Christmas lights. Part-time and seasonal employees are subject to the same tax withholding rules as the rest of your employees. For details on your tax reporting responsibilities, refer to IRS regulations on part-time or seasonal help.
- You may want to use a talent management company. These companies can save you big time and money by screening potential employees, taking care of the HR work, and making sure you hire the right fit for your company, even if it’s only for a season.
- Use the same HR process as your other employees. Don’t be tempted to hire an employee in haste and throw them out on the sales floor on November 15th. Take some time to onboard the employee by offering early training and opportunities for them when things are slow. Additionally, it’s best to follow the same HR hiring process with a seasonal employee as it is a long-term employee.
Whether you’re running a brick and mortar shop, an online business, or offering services of some sort, the holidays are normally a busy time of year. Start the process of hiring seasonal employees early to ensure a seamless start to the holiday season.
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Ben Sutton is the founder of Mazuma USA, an accounting firm providing tax, bookkeeping and payroll services to small businesses. Since founding Mazuma, Ben has established himself as an expert in the small business world. He’s still driven by that same desire to provide accounting help to all small businesses – from photographers, bloggers and creatives to lawyers, doctors, and dentists, everyone needs affordable accounting help. Ben is a Certified Public Accountant, and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. But Ben considers his greatest achievement and credential to be his happy wife and four children.