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Are Seasonal Employees Entitled to Overtime?

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. | Last updated on

The sun is shining, and it's finally getting warm out there - it's almost summer! Many businesses tend to pick up extra customers over the hot summer months, and in turn employers may want to pick up some seasonal employees.

Which ultimately begs the question - are these seasonal employees entitled to overtime wages?

Wage costs, including overtime, are a big factor in the hiring decisions of many business owners. Estimating costs can go a long ways towards figuring out how many extra hands you can afford to bring on.

But first, it is important to distinguish what a seasonal employee is.

Many industries hire seasonal employees for a variety of different reasons - amusement parks may need more staffers during the summer months, and department stores may need more cashiers during the Christmas shopping season. Seasonal employees are employees that will only work during these busier periods.

Unfortunately for the business owner, there is no definitive answer to whether or not seasonal employees are entitled to overtime. Wage and employment law varies from state to state, so checking the statutory regulations for your jurisdiction is vital. In general, most seasonal employees have similar rights as temporary or hourly employees. They are entitled to a minimum wage and most of the time to overtime, but not to other perks like health insurance or unemployment benefits.

There are exceptions to the general rule, depending on the state. Some industries are "overtime exempt" when it comes to seasonal employees. These businesses generally have to be an amusement/recreation business that are able to demonstrate that they only operate during a few months of the year, or that a significant amount of their cash flow only comes in during a few select months of the year.

Of course, there are many variations of this rule. Which law applies to you depends on several different factors, including the state you are in, what business you are in, and on your business operations itself. To navigate the nooks and crannies of employment law, it would likely be helpful to consult an employment attorney specializing in employers in your area to determine if there is an overtime exemption in your area, and if your business qualifies.

Summer may be a great time for businesses to hire, but it's an even greater time to avoid a costly overtime dispute with a seasonal employee.

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