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General Business

Ask the Experts: Interviews, PT Hours, & Hair Color

We would like to add a working interview to our selection process. Is this permitted and are there other options to help us finalize our selection?

Yes, you can have a working interview as part of your selection process, but there’s a big caveat. If you have the candidate do “real work” that is useful to your business, you’ll need to hire them as a temporary employee, have them complete new hire paperwork, pay them at least the minimum wage, and then jump through any termination hoops if you don’t hire them. You can’t lawfully classify them as an independent contractor for this purpose. Here are a few more things keep in mind:

It will likely be most convenient for you to write a check to the candidate at the end of the working interview. But if not, make sure they get paid within the time frame required by your state’s final pay laws.

If a candidate is injured during the working interview, you may be liable for a workers’ compensation claim.

You’ll want to be clear with the candidate that the working interview is not an offer of employment. When the work is completed, give them a timeline for when they can expect to hear back from you.

How many hours can I assign to a part-time employee? Is there a limit?

There’s no limit per se, but there are a few factors you might want to consider:

If the employee was looking for a part-time job when you hired them, you may get pushback if you assign more hours than they bargained for on a regular basis.

Under certain laws, as well as insurance and retirement plans, benefits kick in when an employee hits a certain number of hours per week, regardless of how you classify them. For example, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) considers employees full time at 30 or more hours per week.

If you regularly assign an employee a full-time schedule while continuing to classify them as “part time” – and full-time employees receive additional benefits, such as paid time off – the employee could argue they’re being treated unfairly or even in a way that amounts to employment discrimination.

Can we prohibit employees from dyeing their hair bright pink, aqua, or other extreme colors?

Yes. Non-natural hair color is not a protected characteristic. Even so, there are a few things you may want to consider before making a policy about this:

“Extreme” hair colors are becoming more and more common, so restricting colors may dampen employee morale or limit your applicant pool.

You may need to provide exceptions for any coloring that is due to a religious practice or common for a particular ethnicity.

If you do make a policy, it may be hard to draw lines between what is and is not allowed (e.g., vibrant auburn v. rainbow red). You’ll want to be prepared for that, and make sure managers understand the policy so it can be implemented consistently.

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