It’s just as easy for employers to get swept up in summer fun as it is for everyone else. However, when summer comes there are a few places in particular where employers need to cover their bases. Proper planning and communication with employees can help your small business limit liability and provide a safe and comfortable work environment for your employees. These are a few HR hot topics for Summer to help small business owners cover their bases:
Employee Summer Dress Code– Before the temperature goes up, consider revising the company dress code and reviewing it with your employees. A lot of offices are more casual in the summer but it’s important that those guidelines are in writing. Consider your company’s culture, their public image and any safety issues relevant to your work environment prior to making any revisions.
No matter what your small business determines the dress code is,make sure that the policy is written, clearly communicated to employees and enforced. Being consistent and clear about appropriate attire for your office can save both you and your employees an uncomfortable conversation.
Employing Teens– If your small business employees teenagers during summer break (or any other time of the year) make yourself aware of the requirements related to hiring minors. Employers are subject to both state and federal child labor laws. There are restrictions in regards to what employees under the age of 18 can do for work, what equipment they can/can’t use and the hours that they can work. Make sure that your small business does its homework on child labor laws applicable to it’s industry and that everyone managing a teenager is aware of those restrictions.
Hot Weather Safety– If your small business has employees that work outdoors, it’s important to understand that it’s the employer’s responsibility to protect employees from the hazards related to heat. Take all necessary precautions to prevent heat related illnesses and injuries. For example providing water, rest, and shade are safeguards that companies can make available to employees when temperatures are high.
Vacations- Summer is definitely the season for paid time off. Flexible work environments and time away from the office are among top perks and employee incentives. When small businesses plan properly for time away from the office,it can ensure that the rest of the team is still productive and eliminates the need for employees to be available while on vacation. Allowing employees to truly “take a break” can not only boost employee morale, but their productivity.
A little preparation by employers for summer can go a long way in creating a safe and happy work environment for employees, and ultimately help employers to limit their liability.