Laying off employees / Seasonal employees

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by Guido, Nov 11, 2001.

  1. Guido

    Guido LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,087

    I re-read the "can you charge by the hour" post in the commercial lawn care forum for the first time since it had 5 replies. Its a good thing I got bored, or I wouldn't have gone back in there because I thought it had stayed on topic. Well I did, and I was wrong, it went waaay off topic, which was good, because it brought up some intresting points.

    For you guys legally hiring employees and paying workmans comp and all applicable taxes and benefits: What do you do with the employees that you can't keep busy through the winter season? Lets go with a 4 month "off season" that you can't afford to have them full time.

    Do you lay them off so they can collect checks or do you just say, see ya next year? I'm curious to see how people work this.

    I'm sure the threasd will wing toward seasonal employee's also, so I included it in the topic bar.

    Let's see where this one goes! All input will be appreciated, I think we can get a good topic started here.
  2. gogetter

    gogetter Banned
    Messages: 3,256

    Guido, I had posted a similar question on this a ways back. I don't know how to post the link to that thread here, so do a search under "keeping employees".

    My father in law owns a small concrete/masonry biz, he has 3 employees which he lays off in the winter and brings them back each spring. He works by himself in the winter.

    This is the only way I can imagine being able to keep employees coming back to you each year. There's no way they can make it on 8 months worth of work/pay. They would NEED to make something in the off season. I personally know that I couldn't provide an employee with work year round. I'm just starting out and will have trouble making it myself through the first couple winters.

    And if you couldn't provide them with the option of a lay off/unemployment, I would think they would most likely end up finding some other job that's year round work.
  3. Guido

    Guido LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,087

    This one......

    Now, I know in CT, depending on how soon the snow comes, you could probobly keep busy with leaves until almost the end of November and it's usually dry enough to start up spring clean ups and such by late March / early April. So lets say 4 months of slow time.

    Now, for a small company (lets use an example of 2 crews (an owner operator and 3 employees) its hard to justify those employees hanging around for the slow months, so what do you do to keep them busy??

    I know a lot of people will knock some of this stuff because its not what a "professional" LCO would do, but lets see what kind of list we can come up with.

    -Christmas Lighting
    -Christmas Tree's, Wreath's, Pointsetta's, etc (If you have a place to sell this stuff)
    -Small Engine Repair
    -Firewood Sales / Delivery
    -Snow and Ice Control (of course, but this is not usually a 40 hour work week, consistently at least)
    -Hauling construction debris (if you have a dump truck)
    -Tree and brush removal

    It's hard to say which one of these options or combinations would keep all 4 people busy through the off months.

    Maybe one other way to do it is to find your employee's work somewhere where this is the busy season. Like oil companies, port-a-john's, delivering appliences, etc??

    What else do you guys have??
  4. kutnkru

    kutnkru LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,662

    Jon heres your link:

    Snow Crews
    I know of a few LCOs who tell employees that are not interested in snow removal services they can file for unemployment and are thanked for their services and will be expected to return to work come mid-March.

    Those who wish to work during Snow Events do not receive the unemployment but half checks based upon their earnings during the Mowing Season and they make the BIG $$$ for the wait. The Snow Crew would basically be receiveing what is considered a "Draw" just like a salesman. They get approx $200/wk gross. Then when there is a major storm event they talley up the hours worked, and subtract what has been given out from the amount owed. Anything remaining is paid at the end of the storm. If there is enough to keep the employees paid for several weeks, the employer will hold enough to float the employees thru the winter months so that they have a continual source for income. If there was more paid out by the "Draw" than what was worked during the storm, that balance is carried over to the next event. They claim it will average out over the course of the winter months. Worst case scenario is an employee has to wait two weeks for their first check in the spring to make the differnce up.

    Lawn Crews
    In NYS if you work for a construction firm or are seasonal labor you can file for the "Winter Months" without any hassel from the State once they have contacted the employer to verify that you will be returning come March.

    What I liked to do was to have an employee sign what was in essence a contract for labor. If they completed the season and fulfilled their contract I would then give them a "bonus" at the end of the season based on their earnings, say 5%.

    If a laborer was making $300/wk and worked the full season 35 weeks earning $10.5 then they would receive a check showing our appreciation of $525. I wouldnt take the takes out, and they didnt get a 1099 or find it on the W-2s.

    It was just my way of saying thank you and hope to see you next year. This is also the time when I would present them with a contract for next season if I wanted them to return. I only had one decline.

  5. GreenQuest Lawn

    GreenQuest Lawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 822

    when I worked for a LC, before he got big and could keep us busy in the shop all winter, we would get laid off and collect unemployment. then when it snowed or he needed us for a day or two we would get our normal wage and just report it on our unemployment. (for every $1.00 in wages you would lose .50 of unemployment) so it all worked out good. If we worked a big week we would not get unemployment, but it was always there for a backup.

    Now he kept in touch with us, we would continue our weekly training (two hrs a week) and of course we would stop in now and then.
  6. Guido

    Guido LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,087

    Paul, LGF.., etc, etc?? Anymore input guys?
  7. kris

    kris LawnSite Bronze Member
    from nowhere
    Messages: 1,578

    All but 3 are laid off to do whatever they wish ... collect another job etc.

    The 3 kept on do repairs...snow removal.
  8. MLI

    MLI LawnSite Senior Member
    from Ma
    Messages: 464

    In the past ive layed off people, let them collect unemployment, then when it snows, or something work wise comes up....I pay them cash. So they get the unemployment, then a little bonus. I gave my foreman a $1000 bonus for Christmas last yr. and the deal, that if he plowed for me with his truck, Id pay him $50 cash per hr. (most plow routes take 8 hrs.) he was happy.

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