The holiday season means millions of people shopping for gifts in South Florida’s many retail stores. Even more will be ordering gifts online to be delivered to their doorsteps. With so much shopping going on, stores and delivery companies will be hiring seasonal workers to help them pick up the slack.
Not only are seasonal workers essential for businesses, but the positions can be a boon for those who need some extra cash for the holidays. It’s important to note, however, that seasonal workers have different legal rights and expectations than full-time, part-time or even temporary employees.
As Miami workers’ compensation lawyers, we know the dangers seasonal workers face during the holidays. Here’s everything you need to know about your rights as a holiday seasonal worker in South Florida:
Just like every type of employee, seasonal hires are entitled to being paid fairly and on-time. This includes overtime pay. Seasonal workers who are on the clock for more than 40 hours a week are entitled to time-and-a-half pay for every hour over that limit. Seasonal workers may also be paid time-and-a-half for holiday pay, but that’s not required.
Seasonal workers are also entitled to minimum wage. In Florida, minimum wage is $8.25 an hour, and increase of 15 cents that went into effect on January 1, 2018. However, there are some exceptions to this law. The most prevalent exception is the service industry.
Servers and other tipped employees in Florida must be paid no less than $5.23 an hour, as state laws allow employers to claim a “tip credit” of $3.02. This means it’s expected that tipped employees will get at least $3.02 an hour in tips to make up the difference in minimum wage. However, if that threshold isn’t met, employers must make up the difference.
Safety is a major concern for seasonal workers. They’re often employed in factory jobs, delivery jobs or other dangerous environments. What’s more, seasonal workers are often inexperienced and young, which can lead to disaster, especially in jobs where heavy machinery is used.
In Florida, all employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, with very few exceptions. If a seasonal worker is injured on the job, they may be entitled to receive compensation. The injury must have happened on the job or must otherwise be work-related.
Florida workers’ compensation can be used to cover a critical injury, temporary or permanent disability, retraining benefits, death benefits and more. The injury must be reported to your employer within 30 days, and any petitions for benefits must be filed within 2 years in most cases. A Miami workers’ compensation attorney can help you work out the details of a claim.
One of the most common issues regarding seasonal workers is how to classify them. In an attempt to save money and time on paperwork, employers will often try to classify them as independent contractors. While this is fine in some instances, in most cases, seasonal workers shouldn’t be classified as such.
An independent contractor essentially work for themselves. That means they can set their own hours, hire their own assistants, buy their own equipment, and perform other duties that a company owner must do for themselves.
For most seasonal workers, such as retail workers, these qualifications don’t apply. For instance, a seasonal retail worker won’t set their own hours or bring their own equipment to complete their job. A manager will set their hours, and equipment like cash registers are provided by the company.
There are some cases, however, where you may be hired as an independent contractor instead of an employee. For example, you may be hired by a local delivery company for the season. You may need to use your own car, and you may only be paid directly for the work you perform, not on an hourly rate.
One of the most important aspects of being a seasonal employee versus an independent contractor is the issue of taxes. Independent contractors are responsible for saving enough to pay their own taxes on a special schedule set by the IRS. Temporary employees, on the other hand, are included on a company’s payroll. Both the company and the employee have the same tax obligations as full- or part-time employees.
The other main issue you need to be made aware of is that Florida workers’ compensation law specifically excludes independent contractors. If you’re injured on the job as a contractor, you’re responsible for your own medical care and other expenses. Seasonal employees, on the other hand, are covered by workers’ compensation.
If a company is trying to hire you as an independent contractor, ask the hiring manager if you’re allowed to set your own hours. That’s one of the main benefits of being a contractor. If you aren’t allowed to set your own hours, you should be hired as a seasonal worker — and you should say so. Otherwise, both you and the company could get into trouble with the IRS.
If you’ve been hired as a seasonal worker and get hurt on the job, you have legal rights. At Steinger, Greene & Feiner, our Miami workers’ compensation attorneys are here to help you. We’ll make sure you get the representation you deserve.
Call us today at 800-560-5059 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation. We want to help make sure your holiday season isn’t hampered by an on-the-job injury.