What every retailer needs to know
(NEENAH, Wis.) - The holidays are, no doubt, the busiest time of the year. According to a research study conducted by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., US retailers were expected to hire over 740,000 seasonal workers in 2016. These numbers excluded retail giant, Amazon, which hired an additional 120,000 seasonal workers last year.
To gear up for this holiday season, many jewelry retail stores are looking to hire additional, seasonal staff as well. With that in mind, it’s important to understand three important items: best hiring practices, what you need to legally know, and what steps you can take to avoid jewelry theft issues. You’ve got a lot riding on a few short weeks. Here is some sound advice to make the season truly merry and bright.
- Check with your state department of labor to determine any specific laws which might apply in your individual state. In addition, it’s important to remember seasonal employees still fall under many federal laws and you must comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Those laws include items such as the requirements for overtime pay (anything over 40 hours), ADA laws and anti-discrimination.
- Seasonal or not, keep appropriate records of wages and hours. Written company policies should be provided to each seasonal employee, which include break policies, work hours and pay. Even though a worker is considered “temporary”, there is still an exposure to legal action.
- Take the same steps you would normally take when hiring a full-time employee. If you have a formal vetting policy, that shouldn’t change when hiring a seasonal employee.
- Make sure you mutually agree upon the term of this employment, and communicate the relationship is “at-will”. Make sure this is in writing and the employee signs the document.
- Again, based on state law, if they don’t work out even during a temporary term of employment, they could allege you had no just cause for termination. Make time to train new employees on the ins-and-outs of your business. Although seasonal, you want to put your best foot forward when dealing with every customer.
“Hiring has always been one of the most difficult decisions facing retail jewelers. Because you’re dealing with luxury purchases and expensive items, background checks are essential,” stated David Sexton, vice president of loss prevention and consulting at Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group. “Theft is a big concern in the jewelry industry and the risk isn’t limited to thieves disguised as customers,” he added.
Theft is not always the act of stealing fine jewelry. There are several other items that constitute theft such as employees processing their own transactions at point-of-sale and offering themselves extreme discounts. Cash transactions, which are difficult to trace, may end up “disappearing” in addition to items you may not think of, like something as small as flakes of gold disappearing from the bench area.
Are there ways to reduce the threat of internal theft? David Sexton has a few. “Make sure your surveillance system is maintained and is in good working condition, and review that footage daily. Perform the necessary due diligence when hiring to ensure you’re hiring trustworthy people. Make sure there are appropriate checks and balances, to protect the integrity of your team. And, lastly, create and maintain a culture of honesty and transparency. This not only helps overall, but it empowers other employees to step forward and communicate any concerns they may have.”
Taking all of these tips into account can help reduce the risk of employment practice lawsuits and internal thefts, but it does not eliminate the chance of them occurring. Due to the growing concerns among jewelers of both of these incidents occurring, more and more business owners are seeking an Employment Practices Liability insurance policy (EPL) from Jewelers Mutual. In addition to protecting jewelry businesses from these risks, Jewelers Mutual also provides online training and a legal consultation hotline to give more peace of mind.