Get Summer Smart: Prepare for Seasonal Workplace Challenges

Warm weather may signal a welcome relief for many employers in the Northeast, but it can also bring its own set of challenges. That’s why it’s important to have policies in place to address common HR issues that arise during the summer and ensure continued compliance with applicable workplace laws and regulations. Here are five things you need to know.

1. Dress Code: Some employers allow workers to dress more casually in the summer. While many employees relish the chance to dress down, they may also struggle with appropriate outfits. To avoid workers crossing the line, develop a dress code policy that sets clear expectations and put it in your handbook. Be sure to give specifics (e.g. pant length) and examples of what type of attire is permitted and what’s not as well as the consequences for noncompliance. And be sure to apply the policy fairly and consistently. Check out our video for tips on developing a workplace dress code:

2. Punctuality: While almost every employee experiences an unexpected delay occasionally, it’s important to be aware of employees who are chronically late in the summer. To address this issue, convey your expectations and consequences in your handbook. And, if you don’t already have one, institute a way to track and document late employees. Lastly, if the continued tardiness is due to something like a children’s school schedule, decide if you would be willing to change the employee’s schedule and what that means for other workers.

3. Staff Parties: To keep employees engaged over the summer, many employers opt to schedule a BBQ, picnic or other party. If you plan to host an event, determine whether you’ll offer alcohol. If you do, be sure to serve plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages and limit alcohol consumption by using drink tickets, setting a drink maximum or only serving wine and beer. And remind employees about your anti-sexual harassment policies to ensure appropriate behavior and lower your risk of a lawsuit.

4. Time Off: You’ll likely get many requests for time off over the summer. While it’s understandable employees will want to take vacation days to travel or spend time with their families, it’s important to make sure you remain adequately staffed so advance notice is critical. To help with scheduling, be sure your handbook communicates the procedure for requesting approval. Some companies use a first-come, first-served approach to encourage employees to plan ahead – so you can, too. And don’t forget to consider protected leave to ensure vacation request decisions aren’t discriminatory.

5. Interns: If your business uses interns in the summer, it’s important to know that the DOL recently changed the rules that determine whether an intern must get paid. The new test to decide if interns of for-profit companies count as employees under the FLSA has seven factors, no one of which is determinative. If the analysis reveals that they’re actually an employee, then they’re entitled to minimum wage and overtime pay.

If you have any questions about HR practices to keep you in compliance this summer, contact Complete Payroll Solutions at 401.332.9325.


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