Seasonal employees are a great way to bridge the gaps during busy seasons. When your business picks up during certain times of the year, or you have an employee who will be out for a few weeks or more, seasonal workers may be just what you need.
But before you create a special application or hang a sign on your door, you should consider the special circumstances that surround seasonal employment hiring. Read on to find out everything you need to know.
Set yourself up for success
The key to success in recruiting for seasonal employment is to start early. Many companies, according to Snag, start their recruiting three to six months before they actually need anyone. Twenty-seven percent of companies begin recruiting in August for their fourth quarter needs.
Know the benefits
"One of the most beneficial things about seasonal employment is the cheaper costs. The payroll burden is way less compared to the full-time [employees]," says Jennifer Willy, editor at Etia.com. Seasonal employees are only on the payroll for a limited amount of time, so you can keep your overall employment costs down by hiring on an as-needed basis.
Outside of costs, Manny Hernandez, co-founder of Wealth Growth Wisdom, LLC, says, "It's wise to hire a seasonal worker because it:
- Enables your business to adjust more easily and quickly to workload fluctuations,
- Allows your business to evaluate a worker without commitment,
- Saves time compared to the process of hiring permanent workers,
- Creates a means for businesses to maintain staffing flexibility and, at the same time, better meet their own needs."
Consider the downsides
Hernandez warns that alongside the good reasons for seasonal employment, there are some downsides. He says,
- "A certain amount of training will need to be done repeatedly every time a new seasonal worker comes on board.
- Seasonal workers may be generally less reliable and may not perform up to expectations as would permanent workers.
- Morale can suffer, and employee relations problems may occur when seasonal workers and regular employees do the same work for different pay and benefits."
Sometimes, seasonal employees may have a little bit higher take-home pay than regular employees, but regular employees earn benefits. When pay is discussed on the floor, misunderstandings can arise. Depending upon how long the season is, seasonal employees may feel entitled to the same benefits as regular employees. Either way, those are problems that can occur.
Understand the compensation facts
Even though seasonal employment work is for a limited number of weeks or months, that doesn't mean employers can save loads of money by paying minimum wage. They could, but they would be competing against many employers who not only offer higher wages to attract seasonal employees, but they also offer benefits such as paid-time-off or holiday pay, even medical benefits.
Whatever seasonal employees are paid, employers must still follow the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state rules for minimum wage and overtime. "There are certain categories of work," says Gary Savine of Savine Employment Law, Ltd., "that can qualify for exemption from minimum wage and overtime laws, but they're very fact-specific. The employers must meet certain revenue requirements and be amusement or recreational establishments that are not open year-round." Camps, beaches, and amusement parks, for example, would qualify.
Regardless of how a seasonal employee program is structured, remember the main rule: follow the law. Best practice? Seek counsel before moving forward.