Recruiting & Staffing

10 Tips For Hiring Seasonal Workers

By: Emily Totura
Oct 1, 2021 • 5 min read

10 Tips For Hiring Seasonal Workers – The Holiday’s Are Approaching! 

You’ve probably noticed that stores are usually more staffed around the holidays, or you might see a spike of teens in your community working during the summer. Many people seek seasonal work because of its flexibility. It could be perfect for those in school who aren’t available for the whole year, or for someone who is looking for some extra income on the side.

Seasonal work also benefits employers as many organizations struggle during busy seasons. Seasonal workers help employers keep up with demands to make sure that their business runs as smoothly and effectively as possible. If you’re in the market to hire some seasonal workers, then keep reading! In this article, we’ll share with you 10 things that you should know when hiring seasonal workers.

two men in white crew-cab pickup truck on shore

Know the difference between seasonal workers and employees

Before you start looking for seasonal workers, you should be aware of the difference between seasonal workers and employees. A seasonal employee is an employee that is hired into a position within a year for six months or less. This employment is customary because it means that the employees work around the same time each year—for example, during the summer or holiday season.

A seasonal worker is an employee who is employed for no more than four months (120 days). Differentiating between the two is important because it determines ALE status. This stands for an applicable large employer, and it means that the employer has an average of at least 50 full-time employees. So, an employer is not considered an ALE if their average includes seasonal workers.

For example, consider a retail company that has 40 employees. Then, let’s say they decide to hire 200 more employees for the holiday season. The company would have an average of 66.67 employees for the whole year, but they would not be considered an ALE since it includes seasonal workers. This is relevant because it can affect which laws apply to you.

Make sure you have a plan

Before you begin the hunt for seasonal workers, make sure you have a plan for your hiring process. Especially if a busy time of the year is approaching, you want to mitigate as much stress as possible. First, track your numbers. If you’ve been running your organization for a few seasons already, this shouldn’t be too difficult. Check out your metrics and traffic, and then, use this information to create an effective hiring plan. It also might be beneficial to consult with a legal representative. This will ensure that you are following all of the rules and regulations when hiring seasonal workers.

If you aren’t sure where to begin your search, start by reaching out to former staff. This is a great resource because they understand the requirements of the job, so this could end up saving you the time of interviewing countless people. Additionally, you can ask for referrals from current employees. They might have friends or family that are looking for extra work. Lastly, you can use a job search engine site to advertise the role.

You should hire as early as you can

When it comes to seasonal work, there’s a lot of competition. To get the best candidates through a smooth process, you should start as early as you can. Many seasonal workers will send in applications to many different organizations, so the longer you wait, the harder it will be to find seasonal talent. You should also have interview questions ready. Think about what is most important for your team and company as a whole, and then, curate questions based on this. Do you need someone who can work flexible hours? Are you looking for certain hard or soft skills?

Lastly, make sure you give your new workers enough time for training. Just because they aren’t full-time workers, it doesn’t mean that training isn’t important. Especially if you are anticipating more traffic in the coming months, it’s crucial that your employees feel comfortable and confident. This will help your new workers feel motivated and valued, and it will also reduce the chance for issues in the future when the busy season comes around.

woman holding wine bottle and putting wine on wine glass

Make sure you know the laws

When working with seasonal workers, there are several laws that you should be aware of. If not, you could cause some problems for yourself down the road. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that applicable large employees (ALEs) offer health insurance to full-time employees. A full-time employee is someone who works thirty or more hours per week. If employers aren’t compliant, then they will receive a tax penalty.

If you have some seasonal employees, this could affect your status of being an ALE. Remember, the ACA requires that only seasonal workers are counted towards the determination of whether or not an organization is an ALE. If your organization is an ALE, then you’ll need to figure out if you need to offer health insurance.

Youth employment

If you’re planning on hiring an employee who is under the age of 18, then you should be aware that the Department of Labor has specific regulations to protect minors in the workforce. These laws restrict the type and amount of work that minors are allowed to perform.

  • For nonagricultural jobs, the minimum age to work is fourteen. However, certain jobs are exempted from the FSLA’s child labor provisions.
  • Children that are between the ages of fourteen and seventeen are not allowed to work in hazardous occupations.
  • Fourteen- and fifteen-year-old also have limitations on the number of hours that they can work. They are only allowed to work between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. The FSLA has no limitations on the hours for sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds.
  • Typically, employers are required to pay their teenage employees the minimum wage. However, the FSLA allowed employers to pay employees under the age of twenty the youth minimum wage, which is $4.25 an hour, during their first ninety days working.

If you’re unfamiliar with the child labor laws in your state, you should always check with your employment counsel and seek professional, legal advice. Many government websites have more specific details on these laws as well

Be compliant with the FLSA

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FSLA) regulates minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment requirements. The Department of Labor states that the FLSA doesn’t define full0time or part-time employment. FSLA requirements apply to regular and seasonal employees, and there are only a few exceptions. Below are two important exceptions to keep in mind:

  • Most agricultural workers don’t qualify for overtime pay, but there are several that do include California, New York, Washington, and Minnesota. These states passed laws that mandate overtime pay for agricultural workers.
  • Section 13(a)(3) states that there is an exemption for minimum wage and overtime requirements for employees of an amusement or recreational establishment, organized camp, or religious or nonprofit educational conference center is (1) the business doesn’t operate for more than seven months in a calendar year or (2) during the previous year, the business’ average receipts for any six mons were not more than 33.3% of its average receipts for the other six months. The Department of Labor ruled out that stadiums, golf courses, swimming pools, summer camps, skating rinks, zoos, beaches, and boardwalk facilities now fall under this rule.

The FLSA applies to seasonal workers, but it applies a little bit differently compared to full-time workers. The FSLA applies to all employees—no matter if they’re full-time, part-time, or seasonal. Yet, when it comes to seasonal employment, there is some gray area. The FSLA has many exemptions that apply to only seasonal workers, which is mostly seen in recreational industries. Because of this, there are no strict child labor laws that employers need to pay attention to when hiring workers under the age of 18. Keep in mind that seasonal and temporary employment is different.

Understand overtime requirements

Seasonal workers are eligible for overtime the same way that they apply to full-time employees. Under federal law, employees that work more than 40 hours each week are eligible for overtime pay. There are some states, like California along with a growing number of cities, that have stricter overtime laws that must be followed by employers. Keep in mind that overtime is only eligible for those that work more than 40 hours a week.

If you’re wondering if seasonal workers can be paid by commission or piece rate, the answer is yes. However, this is only applicable if the employee’s weekly income divided by the total number of hours worked is equal or greater than the required minimum wage. At the end of the day, you know your organization best, so however you decide to pay your workers, make sure that you are at least meeting the minimum requirements.

toddler in black sweater standing in front of Santa Claus

Invest in training

Just because an employee is only going to be with you for a short amount of time, it doesn’t mean that you should treat them any differently from your other employees. The purpose of you onboarding new workers is so that your business can run more efficiently. If you don’t offer enough time for appropriate training, bringing on new employees might do more harm than good. Don’t rush through the interviewing process either—the more qualified a candidate is, the easier it will be to train them. If you still find training a struggle, sit down with your new employee and try to understand their needs better. We each learn differently, so it’s important to remember this even when you’re in a time constraint.

Manage employee retention

At the end of each season, many employers part ways with their seasonal workers. This doesn’t mean that it has to be goodbye forever, though! Stay in contact with all of your employees. You could invite them to come back the following season, or maybe even offer them a full-time job if there’s an opening in the future.

For these employees to want to come back, you need to put in some effort during the season as well. It can become costly and time-consuming to hire new people each year, so make sure to treat your employees like family. Make sure these workers feel included and treated with the same respect that full-time employees receive. Additionally, keep the communication lines open. It can be nerve-wracking to start any new job, but it can be especially overwhelming when you’re anticipating a busy season.

If you have any problems, bring them up right away, and make sure that all of your staff feels comfortable to share their concerns with you as well. This additional payment is a good way to keep employees throughout the season. If you decide to do this, make sure you mention it early in the hiring process.

Choose personality over experience

Skills versus personality have been a hot topic for a while. While there’s no right or wrong answer, seasonal jobs usually require someone that is friendly, welcoming and has good people skills. For example, sales associates during the holiday season. You can always train someone the hard skills of a job, but it can be nearly impossible to change someone’s personality even after you teach them how to improve upon their soft skills. When hiring, keep three questions in your mind: (1) What’s better for my company? (2) What’s better for my team? And (3) What does this job require?

Overall, seasonal workers can be a tremendous help for many employers. During busier times of the year, it’s inevitable that you along with your whole team will feel additional stress. Preparing for this by hiring extra help will alleviate much of this stress, and you’ll be able to work more efficiently. Who knows, you might find your next full-time employee!

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