When summer approaches, students and many other workers search for seasonal employment.  Federal and state laws contain special consideration for seasonal work, employment of minors, and internships that may affect the wages you can expect to be paid and what jobs are available.

Seasonal and Recreational Work

The FLSA exempts certain seasonal workers from minimum wage and overtime protections.  The exemption applies to an employer that is a “amusement or recreational establishment, organized camp, or religious or non-profit educational center” and it either does not operate for more than 7 months in a calendar year or during the previous year, its average receipts (fees from admissions) for one six-month period was less than 1/3 of its average receipts for the other six-month period.  In order words, even if the company operates all year or for a large portion of the year, it may nevertheless be considered a seasonal establishment if it makes more than two-thirds of its revenue during half or less of the year.

Some examples of businesses that have been found to be seasonal establishments under this exemption are summer camps, amusement parks, baseball stadiums and racetracks.

One dispute that has arisen in recent years is whether a summer camp that is associated with a year-round organization should be considered an “establishment” that is separate from the year-round organization.  In other words, should the camp fall into the seasonal exemption even if the year-round organization would not?

Agricultural Work

There are numerous exceptions to minimum wage and overtime protections that apply in the agricultural field.  The broadest of these is the agricultural exemption, which provides that employers do not have to pay overtime, although they still must pay minimum wage.  This applies mainly to farming work performing on a farm.

In addition, employers do not need to pay the regular minimum wage in many situations, including where:

  • the employee is an immediate family member of the employer
  • the employee primarily works on the range with livestock
  • the employee is a harvest laborer who lives off-site, is paid a piece rate, and works in agriculture less than 13 weeks out of the year.
  • the employee is a non-local minor performing harvest labor who is employed on the same farm as their parent and paid the same piece rate.

Many agricultural workers and laborers are protected by another law, the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act.

Youth Employment

The FLSA has certain provisions that apply specific to workers under the age of 18. People 14 and 15 years old may work outside of school hours in certain non-manufacturing and non-hazardous jobs.  The law limits the hours and conditions under which these youth can work. People 16 and 17 years old may work any number of hours in any job other than those specifically declared hazardous by the federal Department of Labor.

The law also allows employers to pay a lower minimum wage to youth under 20 years of age during the first 90 calendar days (not work days) of their employment.  However, the law specifically states that employers may not terminate employees in order to hire a youth and pay this lower wage.

All of these refer to federal laws only.  States often have their own, stronger protections for employees.  Many states, for example, require payment of a higher minimum wage than the federal law.

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