Seasonal Jobs: What Retail Employers Need to Know for the 2018 Holiday Season
Not to be confused with gig economy jobs like driving for Uber or picking up groceries for Instacart, a seasonal job is classified as temporary employment that's available part of the year. Retailers hire extra workers to cope with seasonal demands, and the part-time structure makes it ideal for college students seeking extra money during the summer and holiday seasons. However, there are a few things retailers must consider:
Keeping it Part Time
Seasonal jobs should be part time, and are not typically entitled to benefits. Unfortunately, defining part-time hours isn’t straightforward; there's no set amount of hours that constitutes part-time work. As an employer, you have to decide how many hours a seasonal employee will need to work to be considered part time under your management policy. Full-time employment used to be 40 hours a week. However, some employers consider an employee full time if they work 35 hours or 37.5 hours. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) doesn't define the number of hours a week that constitutes full-time employment. This is important as there may be a requirement to offer seasonal workers health insurance under the Affordable Care Act if they work more than 30 hours a week.
In addition, seasonal employees are eligible for overtime; the laws pertain to seasonal employees just like full-time staff. Federal law states that hourly workers are entitled to overtime pay when working more than 40 hours per week. However, overtime rules vary according to different states. For example, if you hire a seasonal employee for 30 hours and they work 35 hours a week, the worker is not entitled to overtime pay under the FLSA. However, if you have different stipulations in your seasonal workers’ contract, you must abide by those.
Retailers must also pay seasonal employees minimum wage, which is set at a federal or state level (whichever amount is greater). However, in youth minimum wage exemption states, you can pay employees who are under 20 years old less than minimum wage, although it's considered a best practice to pay the minimum wage to all employees. It's safer to practice caution around these laws and regulations. If needed, retailers should seek legal advice to remain compliant with the law.
Pitfalls to Avoid
As with any job, there are pitfalls of which to be aware. Your regular part-time employees may want to become full time for benefits. This can cause conflict, as they might resent lack of additional hours, thus displaying poor behavior.
Some employers choose not to provide adequate training since the work is temporary, potentially leaving seasonal workers lost or stuck with boring, repetitive tasks. Another potential problem is that seasonal workers might not have the professional experience to deal with issues in an appropriate manner, impacting the way they interact with customers and other employees. Retail establishments should consider providing cultural awareness training from the start.
Benefits Outweigh the Risks
If your seasonal jobs are filled by motivated students, it's likely that they'll be committed and hard working to garner a longer term, full-time job with your company, or at least a good reference for their resumes. Most employers prefer to give a full-time job at a later date to a seasonal worker who performed well. Retailers can determine which seasonal workers are strongest for full-time, even management opportunities, helping to build the strongest workforce possible.
Dan Westmoreland is the director of inbound marketing at Deputy, a workforce management platform.
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