Seasonal Employment

What Is Seasonal Employment?

Seasonal employment is temporary work to meet an organization’s short-term needs during certain times of the year, such as:

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.

Seasonal Employment: Benefits for Employers

Seasonal employment helps employers 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, further reducing labor costs. During vacation season, seasonal workers can easily cover for absent employees and keep the organization running smoothly.

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Why Employees Like Seasonal Employment

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

Seasonal employment might also provide a stepping stone to a permanent job. It’s an excellent opportunity for workers 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.

Examples of Seasonal Employment

Seasonal employment can occur in any industry, but it’s especially common in sectors that see a surge in customers during certain times of the year. Here are some examples of seasonal employment:

Keep in mind that the employment status of seasonal employees may differ between employers. Seasonal employees may work full- or part-time, depending on their agreement with their employer.

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How Long Does Seasonal Employment Last?

Seasonal employment has no set length and can last from a few weeks to several months. Some employers have concrete start and end dates built into the employment contract. This often happens with seasonal employment involving specific programming (such as a summer camp where campers arrive and leave on specified dates).
Other times, employers will hire more employees around the time they expect customer traffic to pick up and plan to let employees go when it historically starts to taper off. In these cases, employers may have a specific start and end date in mind, but they may not reveal it to employees or to the public.

Ultimately, seasonal employment is based on a particular employer’s needs. There are no federal laws governing seasonal employment length, so employers are free to begin and end employment as they see fit.

Part-Time vs. Seasonal Employment

Part-time employees are generally considered part of the permanent workforce. They work less than 30 hours per week or 130 hours per month. However, they usually don’t have a general expectation that they will be let go at the end of a specific time frame.

Seasonal employees can work part-time or full-time, depending on the needs of the employer. With seasonal employment, both the employee and employer understand that, regardless of employment status, the positions are not permanent, and employees will likely not work for the employer for the entire year.

Laws and Regulations Surrounding 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 federal, state, and local governments.

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

People who work more than 40 hours a week during seasonal employment are entitled to overtime pay for the excess hours. The overtime pay rate is one and a 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. However, 16- and 17-year-olds aren’t allowed to work in occupations 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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