Seasonal Jobs – What Retail Employers and Employees Need to Know

by Deputy Team, 9 minutes read
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Seasonal Jobs – What Retail Employers and Employees Need to Know

Seasonal job definition

A seasonal job is a position that is available in a business for only part of the year. Seasonal jobs are classified as temporary employment, with work allocated for only specified periods. Retailers hire seasonal workers as part of their retail management strategy to cope with seasonal demands. The part-time nature of seasonal jobs makes them ideal for college students who are looking for jobs during the summer and holidays.

Part-time job hours

Seasonal jobs in the retail industry normally involve part-time work where seasonal employees are not entitled to benefits. Unfortunately, defining part-time job hours is not straightforward. There is no set amount of hours that constitute part-time work. As an employer, you will have to decide how many hours a seasonal employee will have to work to be considered part-time. Traditionally, full-time employment was 40 hours per week. However, some employers consider an employee full-time if they work 35 hours or 37.5 hours. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not define the number of hours a week that will count as full-time employment. Your retail management policy will determine the amount of hours that an employee is required to work to be full-time and part-time.

What retail employers need to know about seasonal jobs

Although seasonal jobs are of a temporary nature, hiring seasonal employees can have a lasting positive or negative effect on your business.

Here are some important facts in relation to seasonal jobs for more effective retail management:

  • Seasonal employees are eligible for overtime – Laws relating to overtime are applicable to your seasonal employees just as they concern your full-time staff. The federal law states that your hourly workers are entitled to overtime pay when working more than 40 hours per week. However, overtime rules can vary according to different states. Given that most seasonal employees work part-time job hours, it is unlikely that they will meet the overtime threshold. For example, if you hire a seasonal employee for 30 hours a week and they work 35 hours a week, the worker is not entitled to overtime pay under the FLSA regulations. But, if you have different stipulations relating to overtime in your seasonal worker’s contract, you must abide by these terms.

  • Retailers must pay seasonal employees the minimum wage, which is set at a federal or state level (whichever is greater). Although the youth minimum wage exemption states that you can pay employees under 20 years old less than minimum wage, it is recommended that you pay the minimum wage to all your employees, irrespective of their age. This is because the youth minimum wage exemption is considered to be unclear. So, it is safer to exercise caution to prevent your business falling foul of any regulations and laws.

  • You are not obligated to offer seasonal workers the same benefits that you provide your full-time employees. Under FLSA regulations, employers are not required to offer benefits to seasonal workers. However, they may choose to give benefits to seasonal workers to recruit the best candidates. There may be a requirement to offer their seasonal workers health insurance under the Affordable Care Act if they work more than 30 hours a week.

  • You should seek legal advice to ensure that you remain compliant with the law in relation to seasonal employees. You should also keep a record of all transactions relating to seasonal employees. If you are looking for a simple and easy way to keep a record of your seasonal employees’ hours and communication, contact us for a demo of Deputy’s workforce management solution.


As a retailer, there are many advantages of hiring for seasonal jobs. Some of the pros of providing seasonal jobs include:

  • An ability to meet the challenges of an increase in demand for your products, for example, during the Labor Day weekend. With sufficient training, your seasonal employees will be able to ensure that your customers will get the correct assistance.

  • Cover for full-time staff positions. You can utilize seasonal staff when your full-time staff are on vacation. Ideally, your vacation policy will limit the number of full-time employees that will be on vacation during busy periods. However, there may be times when you are short-staffed during critical periods and need to use the services of seasonal staff.

The pros and cons of hiring part-time students for seasonal jobs

If you choose to hire college or part-time students for your seasonal jobs, you should be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of this approach.

Seasonal Jobs - What Retail Employers and Employees Need to Know

Here are some pros and cons of hiring college and part-time students for seasonal jobs:

Pros of hiring college students and part-time students

  • They are in need of the extra money. Tuition fees and other expenses mean that college and part-time students are normally in need of extra income. This means that they will probably be enthusiastic to work to increase their income. In the case of retail seasonal jobs where the employer offers a discount on products, college and part-time students will also be grateful to be making a saving on clothes or whatever items the retailer sells.

  • College and part-time students will probably appreciate working part-time more than other types of workers. Your non-seasonal, part-time workers may want to become full-time in order to gain benefits. This situation can cause tension because your full-time workers will resent the fact that you cannot provide them with additional hours. As a result, disgruntled part-time employees who want full-time hours may display challenging behavior such as complaining or they may even be tempted to commit time theft.

  • Part-time and college students can be motivated to work hard in their seasonal jobs in order to build their resume. If your retail seasonal jobs are filled by students who want to pursue a career in retail, it is likely that they will be very committed in order to get a good reference.

Cons of hiring college students and part-time students

  • Conflicting priorities. A disadvantage of hiring college and part-time students for seasonal jobs is that they will prioritize their school work over your business. This is the case no matter how motivated the seasonal worker is. This means that, if you require college or part-time seasonal employees to work extra hours, they may not be able to accept the shift due to exams or coursework deadlines.

  • Lack of professional experience. A con of hiring college and part-time students for seasonal jobs is that they may not have the professional experience to deal with issues in the workplace in the appropriate manner. This could impact on the way they interact with customers and other team members. It is advisable to provide cultural awareness training to your seasonal employees to teach them what is and is not acceptable.

  • Change in schedules. College and part-time students’ schedules are likely to change every semester and this could make scheduling their shifts challenging. Additionally, college and part-time students may have to leave their seasonal job when they return to school. This could be disheartening for retailers who have invested a significant amount of time and resources into training their college or part-time student seasonal worker.

There are also pros and cons for college and part-time students in relation to accepting seasonal jobs.

For college and part-time students, the pros of seasonal work include:

  • Resume-building. Adding seasonal work to a resume could be useful when securing work after completing college. Even where a seasonal job does not directly relate to the field that the college or part-time student wants to enter into, working on a seasonal basis is a great way to gain transferable skills.

  • Company suitability. College and part-time students who want to pursue a career with a particular retailer could apply for seasonal work to determine whether they want to work with the company on a full-time basis. Using seasonal work to find out whether a company is a good fit is useful. Because if the college or part-time student wants to pursue work with the retailer, they would be in a strong position as they have already established a relationship.

  • Full-time hiring. When it comes to hiring full-time workers, most employers would prefer to give the job to a seasonal worker who has performed well. Hiring managers have the opportunity to determine which seasonal workers are suitable for full-time opportunities. This situation can save the college or part-time student the time and effort of looking for a different full-time position.

For college and part-time students, the cons of seasonal work include:

  • Limited training. Some employers choose not to provide adequate training because of the temporary nature of seasonal jobs. This could leave the college or part-time student feeling lost and undervalued. A lack of training can also mean that seasonal employees are given boring and repetitive tasks that require no specialist knowledge.

  • Limited free time. College and part-time students working seasonal jobs will need to make the adjustment of having less free time. This could prove difficult especially when required to work during holiday seasons which they would typically be spending with friends.

  • Low wages. Most seasonal work is paid at minimum wage or just above. Therefore, college and part-time students working seasonal jobs should not expect to make a lot of money doing seasonal work, unless they work in an industry where tips are provided. Additionally, part-time seasonal work does not attract full-time employee benefits, like retirement benefit and company outings.

After reviewing the pros and cons of seasonal jobs, most college and part-time students will still accept seasonal work because they may believe that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.

The following are some seasonal and summer jobs for college students:

  • Cashier – This seasonal job involves scanning and bagging groceries usually working at retailers, like Target, or fast food restaurants such as Wendy’s.

  • Nursing assistant – Healthcare students can perform this seasonal job to gain experience in the profession. This seasonal work can take place at medical practices, hospitals or senior living centers.Seasonal Jobs - What Retail Employers and Employees Need to Know

  • Retail sales associate – This seasonal work involves serving customers, merchandising and organizing inventory.
    Outdoor seasonal jobs may be more suited to those who prefer to enjoy the fresh air and nature.

The following jobs are ideal for students who want to spend time in the great outdoors:

  • Park attendant – This seasonal job involves monitoring guests who attend the park to ensure that everyone is enjoying the experience. The seasonal employee will also be responsible for regular maintenance work.

  • Lifeguard – Being a lifeguard is a perfect summer job for students. If a student is a strong swimmer and lives near a coastline or a community pool, working as a lifeguard is a chance to keep the public safe and to enjoy the sunshine.

There are some summer jobs that are regarded as being cool because they hardly seem like work.

Here are a few cool summer jobs for college and part-time students:

  • Barista – This is a cool job for those who love coffee. Whether it is working in Starbucks or a cozier coffee shop, serving and making coffee is a good opportunity to interact with regular customers.Seasonal Jobs - What Retail Employers and Employees Need to Know

  • Bartender – Despite the fast pace of working behind a bar, there is never a boring moment in this seasonal job. As a general rule, seasonal workers have to be aged 21 and over to get this cool summer job.

Ultimately, the best summer jobs depend on the personality of the student. The good news is that there are suitable seasonal jobs to match every personality. A quick search on job sites, such as Indeed or Monster, will provide a list of the best seasonal jobs depending on interests, experience and availability.

As a retailer, you want to be known for providing the best seasonal jobs. The key to providing your part-time seasonal employees with a great experience is to ensure their schedules are accurate and timely. Sign-up for a free trial of Deputy to find out how we can help to make your business a top choice for seasonal workers.