Ask the HR Department: I need to add seasonal staff for the summer season. Any tips?


By HR and health & safety consultancy Peninsula Canada

Home improvement retailers are familiar with the need to rely on seasonal employees. It helps meet customer demand without stressing out staff or affecting service quality. Although seasonal workers are only typically hired for a short period of time, this type of employment still poses many questions. It’s essential for employers to have the right policies in place to avoid any workplace issues.

Do seasonal workers need to have an employment contract? Employment contracts are still needed, even for a brief term of employment. Contracts benefit both the employee and employer as they paint a clear picture and help to avoid confusion of what is expected, especially surrounding the duration of employment for seasonal workers.

What rights do seasonal workers have? Seasonal workers are protected under the same legislation and have many of the same rights as full-time staff. This includes minimum wage, overtime, vacation pay, and hours of work. Seasonal workers are also covered under health and safety, human rights, and worker’s compensation legislation.

How important is it to be clear on job expectations and responsibilities? There are significant risks associated with not clearly outlining the duration of employment. The employer may be liable for more notice of termination (or pay in lieu thereof) than expected if they don’t have a clear contract in place. They may be at risk of constructive dismissal if they lay off the employee between seasons without their employment duration.

In other words, without clear and unambiguous direction, the employee may think it’s a permanent position rather than seasonal and take the seasonal layoff as an indication that they are being terminated or constructively dismissed. Critically, if employers don’t take necessary steps, courts and tribunals may agree with the employee.

A global leader in HR and health & safety consulting, Peninsula has been supporting small and medium businesses for 40 years. We are trusted by over 140,000 SMB globally. In Canada, we helped over 6,500 SMBs with tailored HR documentation, 24/7 employer advice, and provide employment management software. We pride ourselves on delivering a service that mitigates risk, adds value, and allows businesses to focus their time on what matters most.