For many people (me included), autumn is the best season. There’s a pleasant nip in the air and the landscape is ablaze with color. The harvest is in, offering a cornucopia of fresh produce from our very own communities.
Not surprisingly, early fall is a big season for hiring temporary employees. The work ranges from gathering the harvest to selling it at roadside stands. That’s not all. Autumn is the season of county fairs and Renaissance fairs, with all the attendant staffing requirements that go along with these big productions. In October, the brief but glorious leaf-peeping days are upon us, and that means part-time and temporary employment shoots up, too.
And don’t forget Halloween. Halloween is probably the fastest-growing holiday consumer market these days, as everything about it becomes more sophisticated. There are the Halloween stores that briefly appear in malls, haunted hayrides, haunted houses and haunted theme parks, all of which pop up in September and October. And right around the corner is the holiday retail onslaught with a need for cashiers and gift-wrapping personnel.
Indeed, autumn is a season of temporary hiring, the first increase since the springtime. And for smart employers, the first hire should be a competent background investigation firm such as Hire Authority (; 508-230-5901). Hire Authority can make the difference between a golden harvest and a nightmare.
Yes, nightmarish scenarios do abound this time of year, and not just the staged ones. A lot of them start with careless hiring. We all know the stories of hayrides-turned-death rides due to incompetent drivers and other staff. Then there are the potentially dangerous animals and rides at county fairs and Renaissance fairs. Kids get bit and kicked, animals get loose and trample patrons, rides aren’t set up right or operated properly. And don’t forget that sexual predators often seek out employment where potential victims are plentiful.
Of course, the temptation is to ignore the usual vetting of employees this time of year. There’s no time to go through all that trouble, employers reason, and besides, they’re only being hired for a few weeks. What can go wrong?
A lot, that’s what. If you’re thinking it’s a good time of year to just relax your hiring standards, you can bet the bad employment candidates out there know this. And they’ll take advantage—don’t you doubt that for a minute.
Now, I’m not trying to stereotype temporary help as the lowest common denominator. There are plenty of good, solid people out there who want one of these temporary jobs for a number of reasons. They might want some extra income for, say, the upcoming holiday season. The Renaissance fairs hire local actors and wranglers, who are as honest and hardworking as can be. A huge pool of good applicants may come your way when you put the word out.
But it only takes one bad employee to turn the season into a horror show. Here are a few examples:
- A couple of Octobers ago, a teenager died and 22 others were injured when a hay wagon flipped over in Maine. The driver of the Jeep pulling it was charged with reckless driving. The farm subsequently filed for bankruptcy.
- A popular haunted house attraction in the San Diego area was the subject of accusations not too long ago by a woman who said actors were overly aggressive, holding her head under water even after she told them to stop.
- On a ride at a Tennessee fair recently, operator error was cited as responsible for several injuries caused by the safety bar opening too soon.
- Not to mention the thousands of dollars stolen by unscrupulous part-time or temporary retail employees hired for the holiday season.
Temporary fall employees handle animals and machinery, operate equipment and rides, and are exposed to young boys and girls. They may be around for only a few weeks, but it only takes a moment to lose one’s cool, make a dire mistake or commit a crime.
Know who you’re hiring. Get a well-established, reputable background investigation firm like Hire Authority (; 508-230-5901) on board when adding to your staff, even if it’s for the short-term.
And leave the anxiety for the scary rides.
Author: Michael Cormier
The foregoing should not be construed as legal advice. Employers should always consult their own legal counsel for advice on labor and employment matters.