Seasonal employees are typically hired to work on a part-time basis for retailers that need extra help around the holiday season. These seasonal positions are a perfect way to provide employees the opportunity to earn extra income to pay for gifts, meals, and even bills. In addition, already employed workers may have the opportunity to receive a supplemental income, which may help to offset the extra money spent during the holiday seasons.
Many seasonal positions are offered through retail stores, and therefore the stores are open nights, weekends and holidays, and employers are usually happy to give you flexible hours. For example, it was reported that Target Corporation (Target) will hire 100,000 seasonal workers this year for the holidays, which is forty percent more seasonal employees than employed last season. At the end of January 2017, Target employed a total of 323,000 employees including full-time, part-time and seasonal employees. In an attempt to beat competing stores, Target has promised a minimum wage increase to attract more employees. Target’s proposed hourly wage of $11.00 per hour surpasses 48 states’ minimum wages. By the end of 2020 Target is estimated to pay a minimum wage rate of $15.00 per hour.
Am I Protected by Law as A Seasonal Employee?
Seasonal employees receive the same protections under employment laws as part-time or full-time employees receive. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not define how many hours you must work in order to be considered part-time or full-time. FLSA leaves this decision to the discretion of the employer. If a seasonal employee is considered under the employer’s definition to be working full-time hours, they may be eligible for healthcare coverage. For example, if Rose is considered a full-time employee during her seasonal time at Target, she may be able to receive healthcare coverage during that time as well.
FLSA also requires that seasonal employees be paid the federal minimum wage or the minimum wage that is set by their state or local jurisdiction, whichever is higher. Furthermore, if you work overtime hours, you must be compensated at a rate of one-and-a-half times your regular pay. Therefore, just because you are a seasonal employee doesn’t mean that employers have the right to pay you less than any other employee. If Rose is employed, she will receive $11.00 per hour up to 40 hours a week. Any hours worked over 40 hours a week she will be paid at the rate of $16.50 per hour.
Additionally, seasonal employees will be protected by various other labor laws. A seasonal employee is covered under laws that protect them from harassment, discrimination, and workplace health and safety.
What Will Happen When the Holiday Seasons End?
Many seasonal employees worry about where their next paycheck will come from if the employer decides not to retain them on a permanent basis, and they cannot find another position. Under the New York State Department of Labor laws (NYS DOL), a seasonal worker may be able to collect unemployment at the end of their seasonal employment position. The NYS DOL states that if you have worked in New York within the past 18 months, you may be entitled to collect unemployment benefits. Considering that seasonal employment is still categorized as working within the past 18 months, no matter how small the amount of time employed, you may be able to receive benefits after the end of your working term.
If you feel that you have been, or are concerned about how you will be treated as a seasonal employee, contact an experienced employment attorney today. Contact the New York employment law attorney Steven Mitchell Sack to protect your rights. Call Steven Mitchell Sack, “The Employee’s Lawyer,” at (917) 371-8000 or fill out a contact form.