As an employer, you need to provide unemployment insurance for your employees. This is a government program that temporarily replaces your employees’ lost wages if they leave your company for a few approved reasons, such as if you need to let someone go because of downsizing.
Unemployment insurance can get a little confusing if you hire people for temporary or seasonal employment, including internships. It takes a little extra planning in these situations to make sure your company is prepared. You also want to make sure you’re communicating with any applicable employees so they know exactly what coverage they’re eligible for.
Insurance Eligibility for Seasonal Employment
For the most part, you need to provide unemployment insurance for all your employees, even if workers are seasonal, temporary or in training. As long as they’re receiving a salary, you are responsible for paying unemployment insurance premiums to the government on their behalf.
There are a few situations when you might not have to pay. If someone is interning at your company while they are still a student and are receiving academic credit for the work, you don’t have to cover them under unemployment. Commission salespeople and independent contractors also are not covered.
Calculating Your Unemployment Insurance Costs
If you determine that a seasonal worker needs to be covered under unemployment insurance, their insurance costs will follow the same formula as your full-time workers. For federal unemployment insurance, you need to pay premiums on the first $7,000 of annual wages for every employee. Your state will have its own income limit for premiums. For example, in Texas you need to pay on up to $9,000 a year.
The amount you need to pay depends on your location and the turnover for your workforce. If you have a high turnover relative to other companies in your state, the percentage you need to pay will be higher. If your turnover is lower than average, your premiums will be lower.
For example, a brand-new company in California would start out paying 1.5 percent for federal unemployment insurance premiums. After a few years, when they’ve established an employment history for turnover, this amount can go up or down.
The key takeaway is that unemployment insurance premiums are the same whether an employee is full-time or seasonal; there’s no difference in the cost per dollar of salary.
Informing Temporary Employees About Their Coverage
It’s important to let your temporary employees know whether or not they’re covered under unemployment so they can prepare financially. This way, workers who aren’t covered can start making other plans in terms of saving or possibly buying private unemployment insurance.
Also, some state governments have begun restricting unemployment insurance payments to certain groups of seasonal employees. Even though you’re paying unemployment insurance premiums on their behalf, the workers won’t receive unemployment payments from the state. If this applies to your workers, make sure they’re aware they won’t be covered.
For the most part, managing seasonal employment and unemployment insurance shouldn’t be too complicated. By keeping this information on hand, you’ll be sure your company is prepared and staying compliant with this government program.
David Rodeck is a professional freelance writer based out of Delaware. Before writing full-time, he worked as a health- and life-insurance agent. He specializes in making insurance, investing and financial planning understandable.