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Is there a distinction between part-time and seasonal workers?

The holidays just ended so many of you may be wondering if you were a part-time or seasonal worker. Employers tend to use these terms interchangeably, which can cause confusion. This confusion allows employers to take advantage of workers and perhaps infringe on their rights.

Essentially, the laws that apply to seasonal workers are the same as those that apply to other workers, including part-time workers. In fact, seasonal workers can be part-time, and part-time workers can be seasonal. If you are part-time, it only means that you work less than 35 hours per week. Conversely, a full-time worker typically works 40 hours or more a week. If you are a seasonal employee, it typically means that you are part of "surge" hiring for expected increased business. For example, retailers hire extra associates for the holidays. Also, farms will hire more hands during the harvest season.

Generally, part-time workers receive fewer benefits than full-time. Company benefits refer to bonus opportunities, vacation, sick days and health benefits. The issue if you are mistakenly classified as part-time rather than full-time seasonal is because you may be entitled to company or state benefits as a full-time worker. So it is important, regardless of what your recruiter or supervisor may say that you track how much you work so that you know if you qualify for additional benefits. These benefits may apply to you, even if you were hired seasonally.

If you or a loved one believes your rights may have been infringed upon, then you might want to sit down and speak with an employment law attorney to review your rights. Just because you are a seasonal or part-time worker, does not mean that your rights mean anything less. You have the same rights to lunch breaks and overtime. Don't let an overeager supervisor or indifferent manager stop you from exercising your rights.

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