How to implement seasonal workers into your business

Updated Oct 3, 2018

Seasonal Workers

The summer rush is coming to a close, and many landscapers are licking their wounds, calculating totals or preparing for a busy winter season.

However, some may thinking about adding a few seasonal workers to the mix to lighten the load during the seasonal rushes.

However, it’s not as easy as flipping the switch and hiring a few extra employees during the season.

There are a variety of aspects to consider like safety programs, wages, recordkeeping and child labor.

According to the United States Department of Labor, part-time vs. full-time employees is defined by the employer, and the Fair Labor Standards Act does not limit the number of hours per day or week that employees aged 16 and older can be required to work.

“However, overtime compensation requirements can apply for hours worked over 40 in a work week,” the DOL states.

The main aspect to note is employment laws like discrimination and workplace safety also apply to seasonal workers just as they do full-time employees, according to The U.S. Small Business Administration.

Additionally, there are two types of benefit packages employers can offer to seasonal workers – one that is required by the law, which includes social security and workers compensation and an optional “fringe” that employers offer as a means of compensation, which includes paid vacation time and retirement plans.

“As an employer, you may decide that it is not possible or realistic to extend fringe benefits to temporary employees,” the SBA says. “It is important to set clear expectations with your temporary workers so there is mutual understanding of what benefits they are required to receive (social security) and what benefits they should not expect to receive.”

Here are some additional tips from the SBA:

  • Post your openings early.  This will give you a step up above other employers in choosing the best candidates for your position.
  • Use questionnaires or resumes to filter candidates.  To ensure that you do not waste time interviewing ineligible or inexperienced candidates, use a questionnaire or resume to filter out potential employees.  By asking a simple question, such as “How many years of experience do you have in the landscape industry” you can quickly and easily narrow down your applicant pool.
  • Consider hiring activities as a business investment.  Plan to train your temporary employees as thoroughly as you would train permanent employees.  Not only will they be better prepared to do the jobs you hired them for, but you never know what circumstances may arise down the road – one day, you may need or want them to become a permanent full time employee.
  • If you don’t have time to recruit or interview potential workers, consider obtaining help from temp agencies or professional employer organizations.  If you prefer to do the work yourself, focus your search on audiences that welcome temporary positions, including interns, independent contractors, or retirees.

Many times, landscapers will hire college-aged students with some experience or even younger to get a few extra helping hands through the busy season.

Owner of Inside Out Design and TLC’s 2014 Landscaper of the Year, Andrea Wilson Mueller says hiring college students helped out her business tremendously this year.

“We hire with the expectation that everyone will be full time, year round,” Mueller says. “However, this year, we did hire two college students for summer help. It worked out wonderfully, and I only wish they could stay longer. One helped us keep up with loose ends (replacements, mowing, shop duties, errands) and the other helped the maintenance crew.”

According to the DOL, children aged 14 and 15 may be employed outside of school hours under specific conditions. However, 17 year olds maybe be employed for unlimited hours in any occupation  other than those declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor. Once an individual hits the age of 18, they are no longer classified under the federal youth employment provisions.

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