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Hiring seasonal help vs. regular employee: What you need to know

Hiring seasonal help vs. regular employee: What you need to know

By Amy Beardsley
May 12, 2022
7 min read
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Seasonal help makes sense for a lot of small business owners. You may not need to hire full-time or part-time staff, and seasonal hiring may be all you need to keep operations running smoothly during your busiest time of year. 

To help, we’ve put together this guide of what you need to know — including industries that can benefit and laws and requirements — when hiring seasonal help vs. a regular employee.

In this article:

What is seasonal hiring?

Seasonal hiring is a specific strategy that businesses implement during peak times. Companies hire seasonal employees for short periods, whether for part-time, full-time or contracted positions. 

For example, you may consider seasonal hiring to keep up with demand in the spring if you own a lawn care business or during the holidays if you operate a retail store.

Who hires seasonal workers?

Many businesses use seasonal hiring to meet their staffing needs for the change in seasons. So, who hires seasonal workers? Here are a few types of companies that could benefit:

Pros of hiring for seasonal work

Depending on the industry, hiring seasonal employees can help whether the company is open year-round or operates on a strictly seasonal schedule. A few benefits you might enjoy:

  • Flexible schedule: Scale up or down quickly by controlling how much staff you hire, when you hire them and how long their employment last.
  • Lower employment costs: Eliminate the costs of hiring full-time staff by hiring seasonal employees to work during busy seasons only.
  • “Test-drive” the employee: Use the seasonal hiring period to determine if the employee is a good fit for the company.

Cons of seasonal hiring

With all the benefits, you might be ready to jump on the seasonal hiring bandwagon. Before you do, consider the downsides and how they could impact your business:

  • Less training: Due to the brief period of employment, you’ll have less time to train seasonal employees. It could result in workplace accidents or lower quality work.
  • Lack of loyalty: Seasonal staff doesn’t have as much skin in the game as regular employees, which could cause productivity and performance to suffer.

Seasonal employment laws and requirements you need to know

Most employment laws also apply to seasonal workers. But there are some differences when it comes to payment and paid leave. 

Because every state also has different requirements (which may differ from federal laws), it’s best to consult with an employment lawyer and a tax professional before getting started.

Pay rates and overtime wages

Pay rates for most employees must be at least the federal minimum wage, with overtime paid at time and a half. This includes seasonal employees.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets the hourly rate at $7.25. However, many states have higher minimum wage requirements that you must follow. For example, as of January 1, 2022, California’s minimum wage is $15.00 per hour, while Montana’s is $9.20 per hour. (See the minimum wage in your state here.)

But your business might be exempt. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, some employees may be exempt from minimum wage and overtime pay provisions, including some seasonal workers depending on the employer. Check with your lawyer to verify what your requirements are before hiring.

Insurance requirements for seasonal hires 

Most states require businesses with employees to purchase workers’ compensation insurance. This will help provide coverage for medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs related to on-the-job injuries.

For example, Illinois has workers’ comp laws that are more strict than other states. If you have just one part-time employee, Illinois state law requires you to have coverage. Now, compare that to Florida — the Sunshine State requires workers’ comp for most businesses that have four or more staff members.

Even if your only employee is a seasonal hire, you may need workers’ comp coverage — seasonal employees and temporary staff can file a claim if they get hurt on the job. 

And here’s the kicker: seasonal workers often tend to be at higher risk of injury because they get less training and typically are less experienced. You want to make sure you have the proper training and protection in place before something happens.

Hiring an employee vs. an independent contractor

An important distinction exists between hiring an employee vs. an independent contractor. An independent contractor is self-employed and provides services to other businesses. But an employee is usually longer-term and on your company’s payroll. Review the IRS guide or reach out to a legal professional for help classifying your new hires.

Tips for hiring seasonal workers

Seasonal workers can help you fill labor gaps during the busiest times of the year. Here are some helpful tips for finding quality seasonal workers:

  • Start sooner rather than later: Finding the right seasonal worker could take several weeks. Ramp up efforts quickly to ensure that the staff is trained and ready.
  • Find applicants looking only for seasonal work: Many candidates aren’t in a position to take on a long-term role. A grad student or stay-at-home parent looking to return to the workforce may be a perfect fit.
  • Give preference to returning workers: Hiring and training staff is time-consuming. You can be more efficient by giving priority to returning seasonal employees.
  • Hire for attitude: When interviewing applicants, make sure your seasonal staff is a good fit for your company’s culture. Most seasonal jobs don’t require an elaborate skill set, and hiring for attitude can be a better experience.

You must also be prepared for changes. For example, your seasonal hire may be a perfect candidate for a permanent position, but you may also have some turnover — you may need to hire new workers before the season is over.

How NEXT helps business owners every season

Hiring new staff for seasonal jobs can be stressful and time-consuming. As the seasons change, your hiring needs and business strategies can change, too. But one thing is sure: You must protect yourself, your employees and your business with proper small business insurance.

At NEXT, we’ve got you covered no matter the season. You can get affordable coverage because we tailor our insurance policies for more than 1,300 small business professions. 

We have U.S.-based, licensed insurance professionals that work with you to understand your needs and help you find the best possible coverage for your business.

Get an instant quote today.

Hiring seasonal help vs. regular employee: What you need to know

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About the author
Amy Beardsley is a contributing writer at Next Insurance and a Content Marketing Writer specializing in small business insurance and technology. Her work has contributed to helping independent business owners drive profitable customer action through brand awareness and customer education.
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