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Alex Myers

Alex Myers of Myers & Associates will take over the legal advice column "Minding Your Business." He specializes in business law.

Dear Alex: My retail shop is looking forward to the holiday shopping season. And in preparation we are planning on hiring a part-time seasonal employee, but we don’t want to make a mistake with the employment rules.

Is there anything we should know before we bring a seasonal employee on staff?

The holiday shopping season can easily make or break a retail store’s numbers for the year. The substantial increase in sales volume may call for extended holiday hours and additional staff to manage sales and inventory.

For smaller employers who aren’t accustomed to monitoring employee overtime rules, tracking hours, paid time off for sick leave, and general management of part time staff can be hazardous in terms of wage-and-hour law compliance.

The financial benefit an employer could gain from these seasonal personnel could be easily wiped out by an employee filing a claim with the California Department of Labor Standards Enforcement.

Your business may not be accustomed to extended store hours, which could result in inadvertently scheduling of your employees to work sufficient hours that they may be eligible for overtime.

Pay careful attention to the number of hours your employees are working per day, the number of consecutive days of work, and the weekly total of hours your employees are working.

In general, non-exempt employees must be paid overtime if they work in excess of 8 hours in any workday, 40 hours in any workweek, or work if they work more than 6 consecutive workdays.

Overtime rights cannot be waived by the employee. Seasonal workers employed for more than 90 days will be entitled to accrue paid sick leave.

Many seasonal workers are young people. If you are hiring a minor under age 18, if that person is still in high school you will usually need to obtain a work permit from the employee’s school, signed by the employee’s parent or guardian.

Most teens may not work during regular school hours and may only work a reduced number of hours per school day depending upon age.

Teens 16 and older are generally permitted to work until 10 p.m., although younger teens aged 14 and 15 are restricted from working past 7 p.m. Minors under age 14 have much more restrictive employment rules, if they are permitted to work at all.

One area wrought with confusion is how these employees fit within obligations of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

While most local retail businesses do not need to worry about this, if you have over 50 full-time-equivalent employees, your business is an Applicable Large Employer, and subject to shared responsibility and reporting requirements under the ACA.

Classification of the people who work for you as seasonal employees or seasonal workers is important in the calculation of those full-time-equivalent employees.

If your company is close in proximity to the Applicable Large Employer classification, be sure to research these rules carefully and consult an employment law adviser.

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Alex Myers is a business attorney with Myers & Associates in Napa. Reach him at alex@myers-associates.com or 707-257-1185. The information provided in this column is not intended as legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. The information is not a comprehensive analysis of the law — if you need legal advice, contact an attorney.

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