June 13, 2016    |    By

As a business owner or manager, it may sometimes be necessary to hire employees on a temporary basis. Those employees will typically fill a need within the company, either during times when there is extra work, lack of staff or perhaps until a full-time vacancy is able to be permanently filled.

Both temporary and seasonal employees can provide great benefits to a business especially during the summer months. It is also an area where there are often questions as to the responsibilities, both of the employees and of the company who hires them. Let’s define both of these types of employees.

know the difference between temporary employees and seasonal employees.

Temporary Employees

A temporary employee is usually hired to cover the absence of a permanent employee on a temporary basis. This may be due to a leave of absence for maternity or perhaps a disability on the part of the permanent employee.

Temporary employees are often hired through a temporary staffing agency. They are not direct employees of the company but rather, they are on lease from the staffing company. Typically, a temporary agency will charge a percentage above what is being paid to the employee, usually in the range of 15% to 30%. With over 17,000 private employment agencies in the US alone, it is easy to see that this is a viable resource (statista.com).

A temporary employee may work full-time or part-time, depending upon the needs of the company hiring them.

Seasonal Employees

Generally speaking, a seasonal employee is hired on a temporary basis during a time of year when extra work is available. For example, seasonal work may be available during the Christmas season or perhaps during the time of year when a certain type of food is being harvested.

Seasonal employees often work at different times of the day when the full-time employees may not be working. This would include weekends or evenings. At times, a full-time employee may be able to fill the role of a seasonal employee as well to earn extra money.

What You Need to Know about Hiring Seasonal or Temporary Employees

If you hire a subcontractor or if you hire a temporary/seasonal employee through an agency, you are not typically responsible for unemployment benefits, workers compensation and taxes.

If your company hires a seasonal or temporary employee directly, labor laws are still going to apply. Make sure you check to see what those are and how they apply to your business. The Small Business Administration is a great resource.

In addition, you are responsible to provide certain benefits to any employees, including Social Security and Medicare, workers compensation and unemployment benefits. Temporary employees are also still responsible for paying the same taxes as a permanent, full-time employee.

The Benefits of Hiring Temporary or Seasonal Employees

There are a number of benefits to hiring temporary or seasonal employees, outside of the aforementioned need to fill a temporary slot. It can result in financial savings, especially when considering certain benefits, such as medical, sick pay, retirement and vacations.

Many employers will also use temporary employees who have a specific skill set to determine if they are a good fit for the company. Using a temporary employee allows the company to investigate the potential employee before they are brought on full time. This is often called an introductory period.


The bottom line is, seasonal employees are always temporary employees, but a temporary employee does not always work on a seasonal basis. They can be highly beneficial to the company in numerous ways and can fill a need when one arises. Staffing agencies are the best resource for finding these employees quickly and efficiently.

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This blog post is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is created between the author and reader of this blog post, and its content should not be relied upon as legal advice. Readers are urged to consult legal counsel when seeking legal advice.