Understanding California's Temporary Employee Laws
Many businesses recognize the benefits of having a great staff on hand. It helps the business to run like a well-oiled machine and can certainly help to boost productivity while at the same time, keeping issues at a minimum. At times, however, it may be necessary to hire seasonal or temporary employees. This may happen because of a temporary boost in demand for your services or it may be due to your full-time employees taking a vacation. In either case, it's important to understand how temporary employees should be managed, including how to pay temporary employees according to California law.
Understanding Employee Classifications
While they can easily be confused, there is a distinct difference between different types of employee classifications. It can be easy for employers to confuse them and find themselves not following the proper labor law as a result.
A part-time employee is an individual who works less than a specified number of hours in a standard workweek. Most employers define a standard week as 40 hours and anything less than that is considered part-time but the Fair Labor Standards Act does not currently differentiate between part-time and full-time employment. Some laws, such as the Affordable Care Act, specify a definition of full time for the purpose of that law specifically.
Temporary employment is work or employment where the working relationship is defined to a certain period of time, based on the needs of the employing organization. Temporary employees are hired to assist employers to meet business demands and allow the employer to avoid the cost of hiring a regular employee. Temporary employees often start in temporary positions but move into regular positions after proving to be successful in the position.
A temporary employee usually referred to as a "temp", might be hired either directly or they can be obtained using a staffing agency. If the latter is the case, the employee is an employee of the staffing agency, not of the business who uses their services. The services that they may provide are varied and can include labor, technology, healthcare, clerical and education. Perhaps you have a need for a specific service at your business, and a temporary employee can fill that need.
A temporary employee may either be on staff full-time or part-time for the duration of their employment. They may not be eligible for most company benefits, such as vacation pay or health benefits but there are certain benefits that are required by law. This would include unemployment and workers’ compensation benefits, among others.
Seasonal employees are typically part-time or temporary employees who are hired into a position for a short term to help out with increased work demands or seasonal work that arises in different industries. Most states restrict seasonal workers to no more than 35 hours per week and six months throughout the year. Seasonal workers are common in industries that have increased workloads during different times in the year such as hospitality, recreational, farming, and some manufacturing.
In the state of California, it is also necessary to understand the laws associated with paying temporary workers. One of the factors that need to be considered is the minimum wage, which is currently $13 per hour in CA (as of January 1, 2020).
The timing of paying temporary workers also needs to be considered carefully. Under California law, workers must be paid at least twice during each calendar month but there are some exceptions to the rule.
Resonsibilities Of The Employer
In most cases, temporary employees should be paid at the same time as regular employees provided that it is at least twice per month. However, some industries and some specific positions may have different requirements and it is up to the employer to know what labor code they fall under and pay their employees accordingly.
Specific Legislation Surrounding Paydays
Generally, California law specifies that employees have the right to be paid at least twice a month. Employers must designate paydays that meet the state requirements and notify employees of the time, date and place they will be paid. There are also very specific laws that dictate what information must be included on an employee’s paycheck. These rules apply to regular and temporary employees alike.
There are some industry-specific exceptions when it comes to the labor code and pay-period rules. One of the larger ones is the law passed in 2009 that requires staffing agencies to pay all employees weekly. Most of these employees are temporary and the law applies regardless of when their assignment ends.
Penalties For Not Following The Laws
If you pay your employees incorrectly or late, you could face wage and hour claims brought by the employee through the Department of Labor. These claims can include actual wages owed, wait-time penalties and interest. These costs add up quickly and continue to grow until the day the employee is paid any wages owed. In addition to late paychecks, employees can also file claims for missed meal and rest periods and unpaid overtime, among other things.
Remember That It Is The Employer’s Responsibility To Adhere To The Law
The burden for knowing and complying with employment-related laws almost always falls on the employer and payday laws are certainly not an exception. It is incredibly important that you know the regulations that impact your business and that you follow them. It is not only critical in making sure your business isn’t penalized with a wage and hour claim but it is crucial for employee morale too.
This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is created between the author and reader of this blog post, and its content should not be relied upon as legal advice. Readers are urged to consult legal counsel when seeking legal advice.