A Quick Checklist for Hiring Seasonal Employees

June 13, 2018

Category: Compliance, Talent, Zenefits

lifeguard and other seasonal employees

Summer is here, and many businesses need to hire seasonal employees. As the beaches get crowded and tourist spots heat up, the seasonal workers arrive as a force, preparing meals, running registers, taking reservations, and countless other jobs.

In particular, teens step in to fill these temporary positions. Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, teen summer employment has decreased in recent years, but there’s still a spike in employment each summer.

trends of seasonal employment

While summer is typically the largest period of seasonal employment, it’s definitely not limited to the hot months. Anyone who loves the slopes or holiday shopping can see seasonal employees hard at work in the winter months as well.

Whatever the time period, if your business depends on seasonal help, there are a few basic steps you need to take in advance to find, hire, and compensate the right talent. This checklist is designed to keep you ahead of the seasonal rush. Be sure to bookmark and keep close.

1. Know the Difference Between a Seasonal Worker and Seasonal Employee

Yes, there is a difference! A seasonal worker performs labor or services on a seasonal basis, for less than four months per year. For example, if you own an ice cream shop and only employ a rotating group of people between Memorial Day and Labor Day, that is a seasonal worker.

The seasonal employment definition can be a bit technical, but generally, a seasonal employee is someone hired for a position where the annual employment is generally six months or fewer and the period of employment begins at approximately the same part of the calendar year. For example, if your organization runs a holiday gift wrapping service and you hire the same person (or group of people) every year for an employment term of two months, the IRS will likely consider that a seasonal employment relationship.

How long is seasonal employment? This largely depends on your business’s needs. But the customary duration of the work is usually defined as expected to be six months or less.

2. Recruit the Seasonal Workforce

When it comes to seasonal employees and workers, cast the net wide and start early! You don’t want to be caught short-handed during your busy season because you waited until the last minute to hire.

Post very specific job descriptions that include minimum qualifications, any physical requirements, age requirements and be sure to mention the expected work schedule, especially if it is outside the traditional 9-to-5.

There are countless online job sites for you to post your opportunities, but also consider posting at local schools, community centers and organizations, on social media and outside any brick and mortar store or offices you might have. Depending on the type of business you run and the number of people you’re hiring, a recruitment or job fair might be a good ideas, as it allows you to meet with candidates in person efficiently.

3. Check on compliance for compensation and insurance

These can depend on whether you’re hiring seasonal employees or seasonal workers as well as several other factors. For instance, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) defines a seasonal worker as someone who worked no more than 120 days or four months during the prior year.

This article provides additional information on seasonal employment and the regulations guiding the different statuses between worker and employee. It’s worth validating with a professional, such as an advisor with your HR software provider.

Seasonal employees may not be on call all year, but they can make or break peak periods for your business. Make sure you stay ahead and validate hiring decisions before the temperatures jump.

Need more help? Schedule a demo today to check out how we can help you with all your new hires, payroll needs, and beyond!


Lynne MK Morioka owns Social Visibility Consulting where she is a writer, communications strategist and social media specialist working with businesses and consumer brands. She has a degree in journalism and more than 15 years of experience creating and sharing engaging stories. Lynne has come a long way since her first job as a cashier at Toys 'R Us, but is still a kid at heart.

Category: Compliance, Talent, Zenefits

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