During specific times of the year, some businesses require additional staff to meet consumer demand. Hiring seasonal workers not only provides the extra hands needed, but also introduces new talent and fresh perspectives. However, when hiring and employing seasonal workers, employers must remember that they have many of the same responsibilities as they do with regular, full-time employees.

What is seasonal employment?

A seasonal employee is a temporary worker who is not on payroll year-round. It’s a common assumption that this type of work must be part-time, but that’s not always true. Seasonal employment does not depend on the number of hours per week an individual works.

What are seasonal workers most commonly used for

Employers might consider offering a seasonal job rather than a full-time position in two common scenarios:

  1. When business is only open for part of the year, e.g., summer camps, amusement parks, ski resorts, etc.
  2. When extra help is needed to meet demand at peak times, such as the holiday shopping season

Which jobs are best suited to seasonal workers?

Seasonal employment can be helpful for roles that require minimal onboarding and training. Examples of such positions may include:

  • Delivery drivers
  • Customer service representatives
  • Retail sales assistants
  • Hospitality greeters, servers and bar staff
  • Warehouse operatives
  • Tour guides
  • Event staff
  • Marketing and administrative assistants

What are the benefits of seasonal jobs?

Because there’s no minimum or maximum number of hours required, seasonal employment may mutually benefit employees and employers. Here are some pros and cons from both perspectives.

Benefits for employees

  • A seasonal job can serve as a stop-gap for individuals between jobs, helping them earn income until they find a more permanent employment solution.
  • Seasonal employment can be a good fit for people seeking additional income from a second job outside regular business hours.
  • For individuals looking for a career change, a seasonal job allows them to gain experience and uncover further career opportunities they may not have discovered otherwise.
  • Seasonal jobs may help workers get their foot in the door and could potentially lead to a more permanent position if one becomes available.

Benefits for employers

  • Employers can easily adjust the size of their workforce at certain times of the year to meet their needs.
  • Hiring a seasonal employee rather than another full-time worker reduces employment costs when the busy season ends.
  • Since seasonal workers are not classified as full-time employees, they may not be entitled to all employee benefits.
  • There’s no obligation to continue to employ a seasonal worker whose job performance is inadequate.
  • Seasonal workers may have flexible schedules, providing coverage when full-time employees take time off.

Laws and regulations for seasonal employment

Worker classification

For purposes of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), employees are seasonal if:

  1. They typically hold their position for six months or less – and –
  2. Their employment period begins at approximately the same time every year

Workers who meet these criteria are still subject to the same tax withholding rules as full-time employees, but they may not be entitled to all benefits, depending on the specific benefit eligibility requirements.

Learn more about the ACA and seasonal employment

Minimum wage

Employers must pay seasonal workers at least the federal, state or local minimum wage, whichever is the highest.

Overtime pay

Seasonal employees who are nonexempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are generally entitled to overtime pay at no less than one and a half times their regular pay rate if they work more than 40 hours in a single workweek. State wage laws may have different requirements.

Youth employment

Employers with seasonal employees younger than 18 may have to comply with special federal, state and local laws. For example, under the FLSA and applicable regulations, employees younger than 16 generally may only work three hours or less on school days and up to 18 hours maximum during any school week. In addition, under federal law, businesses must not employ those younger than 18 in occupations declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor.

Should businesses hire seasonal workers?

Seasonal employees may provide financial and practical advantages for an organization. To reap the maximum benefits, employers must take a fresh look at their business operations each hiring season. Here are a few tips to attract and retain the best seasonal candidates:

  • Re-evaluate job descriptions
    The specifications of any seasonal job will likely evolve, so regularly revisiting them may help ensure that qualified people apply.
  • Provide adequate training
    Basic training is ideal to ensure productivity and customer satisfaction.
  • Hire for longevity
    Employers can strategically strengthen their workforce by selecting candidates who plan to be available at the same time each year.
  • Consider professional assistance
    Outsourcing recruitment may be a helpful option for high-volume screening and hiring.

This article is intended to be used as a starting point in analyzing seasonal employment and is not a comprehensive resource of requirements. It offers practical information concerning the subject matter and is provided with the understanding that ADP is not rendering legal or tax advice or other professional services.

ADP Editorial Team

ADP Editorial Team The ADP editorial team is comprised of human resource professionals with extensive experience solving complex HR challenges for businesses of all sizes.