Seasonal hiring: 5 tips for hiring seasonal employees for summer

Next Insurance provides tips for summer hiring, including pay rates, insurance requirements, benefits and pitfalls.


Three young workers in a coffee shop training to become baristas.

BigPixel Photo // Shutterstock

Seasonal hiring for summer makes sense for a lot of small business owners. You may not need to hire full-time or part-time staff, and hiring seasonal workers may be all you need to keep operations running during your busiest time of year.

But hiring seasonal workers can be tricky. To help, Next Insurance put together this guide of pay rates, insurance requirements, benefits and the pitfalls of summer hiring.

What is seasonal hiring?

Companies hire for seasonal summer jobs for short periods, whether for part-time, full-time or contracted positions. Seasonal hiring is a specific strategy that businesses employ for more hands on deck during peak times.

How long are seasonal jobs?

A summer hiring season could last several months. But if a restaurant anticipates a huge crowd for, say, a special Fourth of July barbecue, the seasonal hiring could be for as little as one day. A season depends on the demand for the product and/or service you offer, and the length of the season.

A business owner may need seasonal hiring to keep up with demand in the spring if they own a lawn care business. A camp could be hiring seasonal staffing only for the summer weeks, plus one or two weeks of preparation and cleanup.

It's very common for, say, owners of a retail store or a delivery business to seek out holiday hiring for the winter season. But if you sell chocolates and flowers, Valentine's Day could be an equally busy retail holiday season.

Pay rates and overtime wages for hiring seasonal employees

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

Every state has different requirements (which may differ from federal laws). 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. (Find the minimum wage in your state.)

That said, 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. Check with a lawyer to verify what your requirements are before hiring for the summer.

Insurance requirements for seasonal hiring

Most states require businesses with at least one employee to purchase workers' compensation insurance. This coverage can help provide coverage for medical expenses, lost wages and other costs related to on-the-job injuries or illness.

Even if you only hire seasonal staff, you'll probably 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 they're typically less experienced. Make sure you have the proper training and protection in place before an accident or injury occurs.

Benefits and disadvantages of summer seasonal staffing

Depending on the industry, hiring seasonal employees can help. A few benefits for business owners include:

  • Flexible schedules: Scale up or down quickly by controlling how much staff you hire, when you hire them and how long their employment lasts.
  • Lower employment costs: Eliminate the costs of hiring full-time staff by hiring seasonal employees to work during busy seasons only.
  • "Test-driven" employees: Use the seasonal hiring period to determine if an employee is a good fit for your business year round.

Some potential downsides of hiring for seasonal summer jobs include:

  • Workers with 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 don't have as much skin in the game as regular employees, which could cause productivity and performance to suffer. They could also be more likely to leave mid-season, forcing you to hire again during your busiest time of year.
  • Legal hurdles: Hiring seasonal staff has different laws and requirements. You could face legal issues if you're not careful.

5 tips for hiring seasonal employees

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

  1. Start sooner rather than later: Finding the right seasonal worker could take several weeks. Ramp up efforts quickly to ensure that your new, temporary staff is trained and ready.
  2. 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.
  3. Give preference to returning workers: Hiring and training staff is time-consuming. You can be more efficient by giving priority to returning seasonal employees.
  4. Hire for attitude: When interviewing applicants, make sure your seasonal staff is a good fit for your company culture. Most seasonal jobs don't require an elaborate skill set, and hiring for attitude can be better for your business.
  5. These businesses are most likely to benefit the most from seasonal hiring:
  • Vacation resorts
  • Youth summer camps
  • Construction
  • Ski resorts
  • Lawn care
  • Landscaping
  • Agriculture
  • Food service
  • Retail stores
  • Golf courses
  • Delivery services
  • Drive-in movie theaters

This story was produced by Next Insurance and reviewed and distributed by Stacker Media.