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An HR Glossary for HR Terms

Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

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Seasonal Employment

What Is Seasonal Employment?

Seasonal employment is temporary work to meet an organization’s temporary needs during certain times of the year. This might include:

  • Businesses that are only open during part of each year, such as ski resorts

  • Businesses that need extra workers during peak periods, as many retailers do during the holiday shopping season

Most seasonal employment is part-time, though some full-time positions are available. Depending on the employer, the location, and the time of year, a seasonal job might only last a few weeks or continue for several months. Seasonal employment does not include any year-round positions.

How Does Seasonal Employment Benefit Employers?

Seasonal employment helps employers to staff more efficiently. They don’t have to keep seasonal workers on the payroll during slow times of the year when they aren’t needed. Also, because most seasonal employees are part-time workers, they usually receive fewer benefits—reducing labor costs further. And during vacation season, seasonal workers are a convenient way to cover for absent employees and keep the organization running smoothly. 

How Does Seasonal Employment Benefit Employees? 

Seasonal employment can be a great stop-gap for unemployed workers, helping them pay the bills until they find a permanent job. Seasonal jobs can also be a good fit for people who are looking for extra income from a second job because seasonal work is often performed outside of regular business hours. 

Seasonal employment can also be a stepping stone to a permanent job. It’s an excellent opportunity for a worker to get their foot in the door, gain valuable experience, and prove their worth. Many businesses screen their seasonal workers to find good candidates for their permanent job openings. 

What Laws and Regulations Apply to Seasonal Employment? 

Seasonal employment is covered under the federal government’s Fair Labor Standards Act, which establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards in private industry and in federal, state, and local governments.

Employers must pay seasonal employees either the federal minimum wage—currently 7.25 dollars per hour—or their state or local minimum wage, whichever is higher. 

People who work more than 40 hours in a work week during seasonal employment are entitled to receive overtime pay for the excess hours. The overtime pay rate is one and one-half times their regular pay rate.

Federal child labor regulations apply to seasonal employment. Children 14 and 15 years of age can only work for a limited number of hours each week in permitted occupations. Beginning at age 16, there are no federal limits on the number of hours worked, but 16- and 17-year-olds aren’t allowed to work in occupations that have been declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor.

Seasonal employees are subject to the same tax withholding rules that apply to other employees. For information on your tax responsibility as an employer, refer to the Internal Revenue Service’s Businesses with Employees page. 

State and local employment and tax regulations vary dramatically, so it’s important to check with the appropriate offices in your area.

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