Seasonal Employment

Seasonal employment is an employment structure that fills a business's needs during a particular time of the year. Examples of employers that offer seasonal employment are:

  • Ski resorts
  • Hotels and restaurants in summer vacation locations
  • Agricultural businesses during harvesting season 
  • Retailers around Thanksgiving and Christmas

The main characteristic of seasonal employment is that it is temporary. While most positions are part-time, there are a few full-time, seasonal employment opportunities out there as well.

How Long Does Seasonal Employment Last?

The duration of these temporary employment opportunities depends on:

  • The employer
  • The location
  • The time of the year

Seasonal employment may last anywhere between a couple of weeks to several months. For example, retail stores usually hire extra help for a week or two during the holidays. In contrast, hotels and restaurants in summer and winter resorts offer seasonal employment for anywhere between three and five months. 

The Pros of Seasonal Employment 

Seasonal employment opportunities benefit workers in several ways. First, you may consider taking a seasonal employment job if you want to fill a gap in your resume. Got a great job opportunity, but you are supposed to start in three months? Seasonal work will keep you occupied, and later you won't have to explain to future employers why you haven't worked in that period. Seasonal employment is also a great way to build up your resume if you are just entering (or re-entering) the workforce.

Sometimes you know exactly where you want to work, but there aren't any permanent positions open at the moment. A seasonal employment job will be a great way to check if your expectations match reality. You will get to know the team and the inner dynamics in the company. As a result, you will have an easier time when you apply for a full-time, salaried position. 

The Cons of Seasonal Employment 

Seasonal employment comes with some drawbacks. First and foremost, the pay for seasonal workers tends to be lower than the average for the company. Such positions don't offer much flexibility in the schedule. The hours and workload also tend to be greater than usual. Anyone who has done some shopping right before Christmas can guess the stress retail workers go through.

Benefits for Employers

Companies go for seasonal employment because it offers:

  • Flexible workforce
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • No need for onboarding
  • Increased morale
  • No overtime
  • Large availability of workers

Seasonal employment makes sense for some businesses more than for others. Companies that experience surges in business during particular times of the year prefer it. If they have an overall stable level of work throughout the year, they usually prefer to keep a permanent team in place.

Laws and Regulations 

The Fair Labor Standards Act covers seasonal employment workers. It defines the minimum wage and overtime pay guidelines. Youth employment standards fall into the jurisdiction of FLSA. Children who are 14 or 15 can work. They need the permission of a parent or a guardian. They can work only a limited number of hours per week. The restrictions don't apply to youths aged 16 and above. Children are prohibited from seasonal employment in industries considered "hazardous" by the Act. 

The Act applies to private industry, local, state, and federal agencies. 

Seasonal employees have the same tax obligations as any other employee. The amount of tax that seasonal employment workers owe depends on: 

  • How much they earn
  • Whether they have pre-tax deductions withheld
  • What their local state and local tax law are