Can You Collect Unemployment If Your Job Is Seasonal?

by Shannon Webster; Updated September 26, 2017
Lifeguard at the pool

Seasonal employees are just that, seasonal. They come in for a short time and leave just as fast when the season is over. Even with them working during that period, they do not always qualify for unemployment insurance. Unless the company or the state decides to provide unemployment benefits, they are not always covered.

Seasonal Employees and Unemployment

Children practicing ski

In most states, seasonal workers do not qualify to draw unemployment benefits. Workers who work only certain times during the year are not considered full-time employees. They are not afforded the same benefits and compensation as full-time employees in most states. Checking local unemployment laws can help seasonal workers know if they are eligible under their state's laws. Unemployment laws change frequently, so checking the new requirements can help seasonal workers.

Definition of Seasonal Employment

Snow Shoveling

Seasonal employment means working only during a certain time of the year. This could be summer construction, tourism, lifeguarding or lawn car. Winter employment includes snow removal, holiday retail and event planning. These jobs are available for a short time, and work is performed only during that period. If the worker is on for more than 40 hours a week, he is not a full-time employee if he fails to meet the weekly average hours per year as outlined under state law.

Unemployment Laws

Hispanic woman searching newspaper classified ads

Each state creates laws regulating unemployment insurance. These laws change often as state legislatures take new businesses and economic situations into consideration. Federal unemployment laws give the states the power to regulate the trust funds. With each state having its own regulations for unemployment, it is important to check them frequently to determine eligibility. Most states require you to be actively seeking full-time employment once you are on unemployment. Read the laws carefully before accepting a seasonal job.

Execptions to the Laws

Women working in store

Companies can provide private unemployment insurance to their seasonal workers for the periods when work is not being done. These are paid from insurance companies and the company themselves, giving them an exception to state unemployment laws. Seasonal workers can opt into these plans when they are hired. Not every company offers private unemployment insurance. Workers should ask the company if it offers unemployment insurance as a benefit.

About the Author

Shannon Webster is a professional writer based in Hagerstown, Md. She has worked with the U.S. Air Force and several state governments since beginning her career in 2001. Webster currently serves as a writer with Decoded Science, specializing in cognitive and social sciences.

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