Seasonal Employment

Natalie De Spain
Natalie De Spain

Table of Contents

Does your organization need seasonal help? There’s a lot to learn about navigating this type of employment, and it can be challenging. Luckily for you, we’ve done the research. This article will help you determine if it’s a good option for your team.

Watch the world’s largest HR encyclopedia be built in real-time

Subscribe to get a weekly roundup email of all our new entries

What Is Seasonal Employment?

Seasonal employment refers to work that is temporary and only exists during a specific time of the year. Organizations often need extra help from workers during certain seasons, but not all year round. Since seasonal employment is different from regular employment, there are many aspects of it that are less well known and may be difficult to navigate.

Need help hiring and managing seasonal employees? See if Eddy is a good fit.

What Kinds of Companies Hire Seasonally?

There are many types of companies that require workers seasonally. The need could be related to industry demands, traffic increase, financial reasons or something else. Here are a few examples.


Agriculture has always required seasonal help. This sector needs seasonal employees because different duties, such as sowing, tilling and harvesting, need to be done at specific times of the year, creating a busy season and a slow season.

Delivery Services

The holiday season is especially busy for delivery services and often requires these companies to hire temporary employees to help meet their demand. Examples of these delivery services include UPS, Amazon, USPS and FedEx.

Ski Resorts

Many businesses specific to a certain season of the year hire seasonal employees. Obviously, ski resorts require snow to function, so they’re a common example of this. This creates a high demand for workers during their peak season and a low or non-existent demand during the off season.

The Benefits of Hiring Seasonal Employees

There are numerous benefits of hiring seasonal employees. Some may be more applicable than others, but all should be taken into consideration when looking at this option for an organization.

  • Flexibility. Hiring seasonal employees allows employers to be flexible with their workforce. It offers the ability to choose when employees are hired, how many are hired, the duration of their employment, and more.
  • Cost effective. It doesn’t make much sense to hire full-time employees when they’re only needed for a specific period of time. Hiring seasonal employees can eliminate unnecessary costs that come with hiring full-time employees and keeping them after the busy season.
  • Employment trial. Hiring seasonal employees can serve as a trial employment period to see if the employee would be a good fit for the future.

The Disadvantages of Hiring Seasonal Employees

While there are many advantages to hiring seasonal employees, there are several disadvantages as well. It’s important to evaluate these possibilities as you consider hiring seasonal employees.

  • Less training. Since seasonal employees aren’t employed for a long period of time, there is less time for training. There may also be a lack of quality in the training, as employers know these employees are only temporary and investing in them may not seem cost-efficient.
  • Less commitment. When employees work for an organization on a temporary basis, they are typically less committed to the company. This can be a disadvantage as it can affect employee productivity and performance.
  • Potential legal trouble. The nature of seasonal employment is different from that of regular employment, and creates possible  legal issues.

What Laws Apply to Seasonal Employment?

As an employer, it’s vital to know the laws surrounding seasonal employment. When hiring seasonal workers for the first time, it can seem daunting, but doing the necessary research can absolutely help you succeed.

Minimum Wage and Overtime

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), there is potential for seasonal employees to be exempt, depending on the nature of their employment (click here to learn about exempt and non-exempt employees). Based on FLSA requirements, employees of some seasonal businesses are exempt from federal minimum wage and overtime requirements. Review the nature of seasonal employees carefully when determining minimum wage and overtime for these employees.


According to federal laws, employers are not required to offer seasonal employees the same benefits they offer regular, full-time employees. However, depending on the length of employment, these employees may be entitled to some benefits. Review the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to see if specific benefits need to be offered to these employees.

Classify Workers Correctly

It can be hard to know how to classify seasonal employees. For example, you may want to classify them as independent contractors. Be sure you thoroughly review the circumstances of their employment, because incorrectly classifying someone as an independent contractor opens you up to possible legal issues.

Tips for Hiring and Managing Seasonal Employees

There are many best practices for hiring and managing seasonal employees. Although seasonal employees are temporary, they are valued team members, and should be treated as such. It can be hard to navigate this process for the first time, but learning what works for other organizations will help you start strong.

Set Clear Expectations

When hiring seasonal employees, it’s important to set clear expectations regarding the length of employment and responsibilities. Clearly state this in the job description, throughout the hiring process, and within the contract. Obtain written acknowledgment of this when hiring employees to keep on record.

Manager Training

Make sure managers are properly trained on how to work with and manage these employees. As most rules still apply to these employees, managers need to be aware of how to handle accommodation requests and avoid discrimination and harassment claims. Managers should also be familiar with company-specific policies regarding the nature of their seasonal employees.

Treat Seasonal Employees Well

Everyone knows that seasonal employees are temporary, and that may affect how they are treated by an employer or fellow coworkers. Treating seasonal employees as well as you do regular employees:

  • Supports their mental wellbeing
  • Increases productivity and satisfaction with their work
  • Avoids the possibility of discrimination claims
  • Encourages them to speak well of your company
  • Increases the chances they will want to return next year

Questions You’ve Asked Us About Seasonal Employment

According to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), seasonal employees are employees who are typically hired for six months or less annually.
The majority of employment laws—with the exception of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)—apply to seasonal employees. These employees typically are not eligible for FMLA leave, as they don’t fulfill the requirement of 1,250 hours of work in a 12-month period.
Under the FLSA( , if a seasonal employee works for a company that only operates for a total of seven months of any calendar year, those seasonal employees are exempt from overtime payments. Be careful to review seasonal employees’ status thoroughly to determine if exemptions apply.
Natalie De Spain
Natalie De Spain

Natalie graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management in 2020. Following her schooling, she completed an additional HR internship and is currently an Associate HR Operations Specialist. She loves working in HR and fully intends to further her education alongside her career.

Want to contribute to our HR Encyclopedia?

Other Related Terms

Posts You Might Like

5 Recruitment Tips for Attracting Top Candidates​

5 Recruitment Tips for Attracting Top Candidates​

You want to attract the right people for the right job at your company—before the competition hires the best talent in the field. The hiring process, often involving recruiting, multiple screenings, assessments, and interviews, can take weeks or longer. An inefficient process may cause your company to lose out simply because candidates got another offer sooner. On the other hand, a poor hiring process can result in employees who are a poor fit for the culture or job requirements, causing expensive turnovers.

Read More »
5 HR and Hiring Practices You Need to Fire

5 HR and Hiring Practices You Need to Fire

Companies don’t usually have a problem letting people go who are stealing or consistently underperforming and showing no signs of improvement. Why are we so much more lenient with HR practices that cost a ton and don’t do what we need them to?

Read More »

Want to join our network of contributing HR professionals?

Scroll to Top

Submit a Question