The official start of the holiday shopping is Black Friday - the day after Thanksgiving. Each year is a frenzy for retailers and shoppers alike. It's not all about finding deals and making a profit, though.

Jobs

Like many years, this holiday season means hundreds of thousands of temporary or seasonal jobs. Retailers and stores big and small hire workers to help manage the onslaught of customers, mail orders, deliveries, etc. Both job-seekers and employers need to know what's involved with the seasonal work boom.

Workers

If you're thinking of taking a seasonal job, there are some things to keep in mind:

When and Where to Look. As for when, start looking for work in mid to late October. By then, most stores and retailers are ramping up for holiday sales. As for where:

  • Check the classified ads in your local newspaper
  • Look for Help Wanted signs in the store windows or doors of stores in your neighborhood or local mall
  • Walk into a store you're interested in and simply fill out an application
  • Check online. Many employers list job openings online, and many big retailers like Target and Wal Mart let you apply for jobs online, too
  • Contact an employment agency in your area

Know Your Limits. If you already have a job or if you're a parent with young children, think about how many hours per day and per week you can handle, and which days you're available to work. Then, look for jobs that fit your schedule.

Be Realistic. Understand that in most cases, your job is temporary - so when the holiday season ends so may your employment. Some employers do, however, hire permanent employees from the temporary work force. During your interview or after you're hired, ask about potential permanent employment if you're interested in it.

Your Privacy. Like any other job, an employer looking for seasonal workers will likely require you to undergo a background search and may even ask to look at your credit report.

Employers

If you need to hire some help this holiday season, there are some things for you to keep in mind, too:

Be Upfront. Explain to job seekers that their jobs are temporary. This way there's no expectation of continued employment, and managers and supervisors don't become too dependent on the workers. Also, explain what benefits temps are and aren't entitled to.

Be Careful in the Interview. Know what questions you can and can't ask during an interview or on an application form. The last thing you need is a long, drawn out discrimination lawsuit when all you want is some temporary help.

Verify. You need to complete Form I-9 and E-Verify for seasonal employees. Just like your permanent employees, you need to make sure temporary workers are allowed to work in the US.

Educate. To protect yourself from discrimination and other lawsuits, your seasonal employees need to know your company policies on sexual harassment, discrimination, and workplace privacy. Think about ordering more employee handbooks or having a computer-based training session.

Age Matters. Be careful when hiring minors - you don’t need problems with state and federal child labor laws. And don't be so fast when refusing applications from older job-applicants, either. It's against the law to refuse to hire someone because of her age.

In today's economy, seasonal employment is probably more important for everyone. People need jobs to help make ends meet, and retailers need help to make sure they sell as much as possible to maximize their bottom lines. Following these tips will help make it a profitable season for everyone.

Questions for Your Attorney

  • Can an employer take back a job offer after I've accepted it?
  • Does seasonal work affect my unemployment compensation benefits?
  • Is it legal for an employer to pay seasonal workers in cash instead of by payroll checks?

Tagged as: Labor and Employment, Human Resources Law, seasonal jobs, labor lawyer