Comstock's magazine 0818 - August 2018 - Page 27

Have a burning HR question? Email it to: pay — drops too low (as determined by the California Employment Development Department), they are eligible for par- tial unemployment payments, which will cost you. If you lay off your employees, they are eligible for full unemployment payments, which will also cost you. Just how much will vary based on a number of different things, but expect costs around $4,000 per laid-off employee. This is because unemployment costs from state-issued unemployment are charged back to the employer, depending on how many people are eligible and how long they receive payments. This is prob- ably less than paying people, but it’s not a negligible cost. Don’t, under any circumstances, make up a reason why the person was termi- nated and try to say it’s a termination for cause. It’s not. Not only is this dishonest, you’re likely to lose the unemployment claim and have the employee receive unemployment anyway. RECRUITMENT COSTS If you lay off your employees, or drop their hours so low that they start looking for oth- er jobs, there’s no guarantee they will still be available when your busy season picks back up. This is fine if you are running something with low-skilled labor — or it would be fine if the economy wasn’t hum- ming along right now. As of May, there were more jobs open in the U.S. than there were people looking for work. This means you’ll likely have to recruit and train new people every season. The more complex your jobs are, the more dif- ficult this process will become. If your busy season corresponds to summer holidays, college and high school students may be plentiful. If it doesn’t? It will be a lot harder. WOULD TEMPORARY EMPLOYEES BE A BETTER FIT? If you know people will only be working for a few months, and you’re willing to train new people every busy season, then you should consider hiring temporary em- ployees. You’ll pay extra to an agency, but they’ll handle everything and when the contract is finished, it’s finished. You won’t be dinged for unemployment or have to worry about benefits. But, most people taking temporary jobs would prefer to be in long-term posi- tions, so your turnover might be higher. On the other hand, if you can build a good re- lationship with a temp agency, this might be a great solution. Make sure you’re clear about your costs ahead of time, and how overtime hours affect pay. Remember, in California, employees are due overtime pay if they work more than eight hours in any single day. All in all, there isn’t an easy answer for a seasonal business. You want to treat your employees well (otherwise, you’ll get lousy work and even higher turnover), but it can be difficult when you don’t have actual work for them to do. You can probably make it work through a mix of methods — some long-term em- ployees that you keep year round, supple- mented by temporary employees, for in- stance. Just make sure you sit down with your accountant and your employment attorney before you make any decisions. n Suzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corpo- rate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers and double- checked with the lawyers. On Twitter @RealEvilHRLady. August 2018 | 27