Seasonal Employees vs. Seasonal Workers – It Matters!


There was a time when it may not have been important to you whether employees hired only for a specified term were called “temps” or “seasonal,” but the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has changed that. If you are an “applicable large employer” (ALE), it is important to stay on top of this distinction because you can be penalized for non-compliance with the new rules. To begin understanding the new requirements, and determine whether you are an ALE, you first must distinguish between “seasonal workers” and “seasonal employees.”

An ALE is a business that employed an average of 50 or more employees in the previous year. If you are an ALE, you must offer health care coverage to all full-time employees, so you can see where the number becomes important.

The ACA is a complex ruling, so of course, there’s a tricky part. Fortunately for large businesses, in this case it works in the favor of the employer. Not all your seasonal people count towards the measurement of “50 or more employees”!

If you hire seasonal workers who work less than 120 days that year, then they do not count as seasonal employees for the measurement, so will not affect your status as a small employer.

In summary, when a position is customarily filled for six months or less, it’s seasonal. If you hire lifeguards, ski instructors, or others who customarily work only part of the year, then you need to pay attention to how many days they work for you. Working more than 120 days is what triggers the status of “seasonal employee,” which requires that the person be counted. Working less than 120 days means they are a “seasonal worker,” but not an “employee” per this metric.

This article on seasonal employees provides a much more in-depth look at this important issue, and we thought it might be a valuable resource for you.