What Businesses Need to Remember About Seasonal Employees

May 11, 2017
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With the winter behind us and warm months ahead, many seasonal businesses are quickly ramping up and getting back in action. For any seasonal business, this means a race to secure a temporary workforce.

Whether you run a farm, a garden center, a food truck, a lawn care service, or whatever else, you’ll need employees to help you through the season. However, hiring seasonal employees presents a few unique wrinkles and obstacles year-round businesses might not have to consider. When you’re staffing up for the year, keep the following points in mind.

Safety is still first

The nature of seasonal work necessitates adopting a variety of risks you need to manage as a responsible business owner. The exact level of direct risk to the employee is of course going to depend on the nature of the job (harvesting crops, working on a deep fryer, manning a cash register, etc). No matter what you have your employees doing though, you need to make sure they are fully trained and qualified to do the job and that you have the proper insurance to cover any accidents. Otherwise, you’re leaving yourself open to significant liability.

While it might be tempting to treat seasonal workers a little more loosely than in a year-round business, the need for high training standards and detailed record keeping still applies. Employees must know all the relevant safety information for their position and be fully trained before being put to work. Failure to provide the proper training for employees or a safe work environment means you can be held liable for any injuries or accidents that occur on the job.

Keeping records of every employee, their position, exactly what they have been hired to do, and what hours they work is essential. This is information that will be used in the event of any insurance claims so it’s important they are as accurate and up-to-date as possible.

Vet and screen your workers

When you need to staff up in a hurry it’s easy to rush things, but you need to be careful. Just because a worker is seasonal doesn’t mean they won’t be your responsibility. You need to make sure you’re hiring respectable, reliable, and safe employees, not just whoever happens to come through the door with a resume in hand.

This is especially true for any business that will work with cash, the public, or children. Seasonal retail locations, summer camps, day care centers, and other businesses need to be very cautious with their hiring choices. For any sensitive position you should be checking references and carrying out proper screening methods. Validate the identity of any potential employees and request a police check. The extra effort you spend screening now could save you from much greater headaches and legal trouble down the road.

If your staffing needs are heavy and time is short, it may make sense to consult a hiring agency and outsource the process. This can cost a bit of money, but the time you save and the security provided by having an agency vet your applicants can be more than worth it.

Supervision is essential

A good seasonal business should be equipped to deal with a fast-paced environment. With new people every year, a short time-frame to make a maximum amount of profit, and a variety of other high-pressure concerns, it’s more important than ever for management to be on the ball.

Seasonal businesses need to make sure that all policies are being enforced and observed in the workplace. If you say employees must wear safety boots at all times, a supervisor should be out there periodically checking to make sure everyone has them on. If you’re working outside and heat is a factor, a supervisor must be on hand to regulate breaks, make sure everyone has access to water and refreshments, and respond to any medical emergencies. Good supervision can mean all the difference between a successful season, and a nasty liability claim.


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