Slow season layoffs

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by Stonehenge, Feb 13, 2001.

  1. Stonehenge

    Stonehenge LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 1,276

    I'm at a point where I really need to start hiring people for the long haul, not seasonal/college employees who I usually end up having to replace/retrain the next season.

    We don't offer plowing in winter, but might next season.

    My question is twofold -

    For those of you who don't have enough winter work to support everyone, do you lay them off? And if so, what kind of hit does your UI account take?

    For those that do work through the winter - if you can't provide 40 hrs/wk, which it seems the snow rarely does, how is it handled? Layoff with occasional work, or change to part time employee during that season?

    (JA you've got a big co that has likely run into this, so I'm counting on you...:D)

  2. John Allin

    John Allin LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,488

    We're probably not a good one to emulate on this because we get so much snow that we don't lay anyone off for winter. This past week is the first week this season that we've had anyone go sign up for unemployment. However, we do change their status from full time to 'part time - on call'. In this way we get a weekly report slip from the unemployment bureau asking for 'hours worked'. In PA if there is work available and they don't show, the state considers that as 'hours worked' and they cannot collect for that period of time that work was available.

    For the few weeks that they may collect, we don't mind and neither do they as they consider it some free time off.

    Might seem complicated, but we have used the system to our advantage.

    Now... our managers, mechanics, sales people and office staff are kept on full time through the winter. Except for mechanics, these people are all on salary. We cut back the mechanics time if it's not snowing, however our mechanics get unlimited OT in winter (for obvious reasons). Managers do equipment service work, remodeling, painting, some light pruning and also get some paid time off. Office and sales staff has lots to do. It's laid back here in winter when it's not snowing, and when it is snowing - every one works lots of hours.

    Hope that helps.
  3. Nebraska

    Nebraska LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 525


    So what did you decide to do during last winter and this winter?
  4. GroundKprs

    GroundKprs LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,969

  5. LB Landscaping

    LB Landscaping LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 1,309

    I was just going to post the same questions Stonehenge, thanks!!! I am going to hire at least one person next year maybe two and was wondering the same. We do get snow up here in Maine but you can't count on it and its definatly not enough to sustain extra help all the time. I don't really want to have to "layoff" good help but I see no other alternative. If I do layoff should I expect to hire new employees the following year?
  6. Nebraska

    Nebraska LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 525

    Thanks Jim.

    Am I reading it correctly? You give a bonus based upon the full weekly pay for 12 weeks (winter) divided out in 40 weeks for the ones that you want to keep?
  7. weedwoop

    weedwoop LawnSite Member
    Messages: 75

    John allin, You got me wondering when you talked about your guys signing up for days not worked but their not layed off. My son works for a small tree co., which has to be the worst for any worker who needs to get in a full week. any time the weather is bad the owner tells you to stay home or go home early. My question is, can he collect unimployment for hours short of 40 in any week? Thanks.
  8. kris

    kris LawnSite Bronze Member
    from nowhere
    Messages: 1,578

    Jeff .. I have no data to back it up but Im guessing that this is the biggest challenge facing this industry.
    I would stay away from hiring students .....might get flamed for that comment. Look for guys that are interested in this for the long haul.
    Snow ... well we are not interested in taking on any more accounts. We currently have about 30 man/hrs if it snows. Two us us handle that easily. Doesn't snow enough here to make it worthwhile....and hate every minute of it.
    We have a connection in the oil rig camp supplier business that hires a few guys in the winter...It's busy for them and drops off in spring. Spring time they come back to us .... hopefully.
    I think as your company grows you will find a need to keep a couple of guys on doing equipment repair and all the other things Mr. JA mentioned.
    Could you look for another type of business to keep guys employed? Firewood? ...I don't know.
  9. LB Landscaping

    LB Landscaping LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Maine
    Messages: 1,309

    Thanks Kris, I have thrown around some of those ideas. firewood might be a good choice. I can see your point about students, some may be reliable but I can remember when I was younger and working PT, I wouldn't have hired myself LOL.

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