As summer heats up, so does employer liability: 5 tips for the season — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

As summer heats up, so does employer liability: 5 tips for the season

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Hiring,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

With warm weather and the summer season quickly approaching, the potential for employment law problems heats up in the workplace.

Companies operating with lean staffs can find it challenging to grant vacation requests. Skimpy summer fashion could prompt sexual harassment claims. For many industries—hospitality and entertainment, for example—summer means hiring part-time teenage employees.

What should employers do now so they’re ready to be productive this summer and ensure they’re complying with employment-related laws?

Labor and employment law firm Fisher & Phillips offers this five-point employment-law to-do list for summer:

1. Plan ahead for vacation requests

Poorly managed, summer vacation requests can leave employers short-staffed. 

To avoid problems, make sure your employee handbook and vacation policy clearly state that all vacation requests must be made in advance, must be approved by management and may be denied if granting the request would create a hardship on the company. 

2. Prevent harassment in the hot summer sun

In the summer months, skirts often get shorter, tops get tighter and more revealing, and flip-flops become the footwear of choice. If you’re considering a relaxed summer dress code, anticipate the possibility that revealing attire might generate inappropriate comments and behavior from workplace jerks.

Remind employees of your anti-harassment policy and other employee conduct rules. And consistently enforce your dress and grooming policies.

3. Lessen liability when hiring seasonal workers

Seasonal and temp employees demand special hiring considerations. Bungle the hiring process, and you could find yourself on the receiving end of a lawsuit summons. For example, job advertisements should state that the position is a temporary one. Don’t guarantee a specific length of employment. In addition, if you’re hiring people to work on a holiday or odd hours, you should say so up front.  

4. Know child labor issues

Hiring workers under the age of 18 means complying with strict child-labor laws. There are limitations on work hours or the number of hours worked within a specific time period. Some hazardous jobs are off-limits to underage workers. Check your state’s particular laws—and consult an attorney if you have questions about hours and working conditions.

5. Prepare for summer ‘sick’ days

Strange how many employees don’t feel well on the prettiest of days. To prevent the “summer flu,” reinforce your policy requiring employees to provide doctors' notes for unexpected illnesses. Be sure to enforce it in a consistent manner.

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