Unemployment Rules???

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by Superiorlandscaping, Nov 18, 2002.

  1. Superiorlandscaping

    Superiorlandscaping LawnSite Member
    from Ma
    Messages: 62

    Alright here, I am new to being an owner in this business. First off, is Massachusetts a fire at will state? second, am i allowed to hire my employees as "seasonal Help" for instance. They know that they arent going to be able to mow lawns and such during the winter. My former boss paid every employee unemployment during the winter. I think that is slightly foolish. There are plenty of employment opportunities in the winter such as working for Mt Wachusett Ski Resort or something. But anyways, I dont want to play unemployment during the winter months. Is that legal? Thanks for info - tim
  2. Rob T

    Rob T LawnSite Member
    Messages: 165

    Here in NJ we pay the state unemployment "insurance" which is part of the taxes taken each pay period. You don't pay the employee when there is no work, he will have to collect from the state for the time he is laid off. You just re-hire him in the spring and he must notify the state that he is returning to work. I notice my employees avoid me in the spring when it's time to get back to work. I guess they get acustomed to sitting around and collecting their check. After they get on unemployment, if you have work for them and they refuse it, you should notify the Unemployment agency and the agency will stop their checks. When they can't collect they get motivated real quick!
  3. kris

    kris LawnSite Bronze Member
    from nowhere
    Messages: 1,578

    Here in Canada there are call back dates on the separation form that is used to collect unemployment. Once that date comes around there checks automatically stop.
  4. The Lawn Choupique

    The Lawn Choupique Banned
    Messages: 199

    That is what unemployment is for. You know they call it unemployment for a reason. The employee did not quit the job. The company quit the employee. The only thing is if you keep laying people off your unemployment insurance preimuns will increase. Laying that ole line on about it being a seasonal business in an enlightened society just don't wash no more.
  5. landman

    landman LawnSite Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 110

    I have 4 of my guys that work for me (are all related) go to Hawaii, they have a relative that works there year round and they leave me on Dec 15th and return around Mar 20th. Have been doing this for about 3 years now and they don't have to collect unemploment for the winter which saves me $$. Then I have 2 guys that actually go to work for a customer of mine in his warehouse (they only work for him about 20 hrs a week so for them something is better than nothing and our agreement is that when and if I need them for a job or plowing I can take them)Now I have only 5 guys left and usually 2 or 3 of them find temp work from an agency that we use on ocassion so they keep busy and then if it snows or I have work for them they just come to me and the remaining 2 guys will usually work about 20 to 30 hrs a week taking care of our resturants/ shopping centers/ office buildings etc. Our excavating and retaining walls usually keep us busy enough in between the snow and working on all the eqiptment. But I guess the point here is that the 2 guys that work all winter are my foremen and they have to work 12 months a year because they have health insurance through our company. And what we do is we let the guys save thier (overtime/ extra hours) and we essentially hold them until they want them, so in the winter on a 20 hour week they can take 20 of thier"saved" hours and still have a 40 hr per week paycheck. They don't mind and it also saves me and them in the extra "Fees" that are associated with an overtime paycheck. We also make them sign an agreement to do this in the begining of the season and if they still have hours left over the winter we will issue them a paycheck for the remaining hours on or about April 15th.
  6. Superiorlandscaping

    Superiorlandscaping LawnSite Member
    from Ma
    Messages: 62

    You missed the point i was trying to make. I am saying, they know they arent going to have work in the winter when I hire them. So why should i pay them in the winter. I know i dont directly pay them, but i do if they take all of the insurance up. All I am saying is you shouldnt have to pay your employees in the winter. Are teachers paid unemployment in the summers, No. Its time off and they get another job. I know they can choose to get a check throughout the year or just during the school year, but i am trying to make my point. My guys have made upwards of 40,000 in the past for 8 or less months of work. If they saved properly they should be able to spread that out. So back to the original question, "Can I hire employees in the state of mass as Seasonal employees?" -tim
  7. Meier

    Meier LawnSite Senior Member
    from DFW
    Messages: 269


    I too have been running into an absolute BRICK WALL on this issue. I haven't grown to the point of needing to actually hire a regular employee yet, but I'm getting close. I should be there next spring.

    Anyway, whan I worked for Chemlawn in OKC back in the summer of 1990, they paid me a 'salary' of $310.00 per week. My overtime was calculated as what all the employees referred to as 'chinese overtime'. Say I worked 40 hours in one week. That comes out to $7.75/hr. But, then the next week, assume I worked 50 hours. They would figure my base hourly rate by dividing the base of $310 by 50 hours...$6.20/hr. For the extra 10 hours, they would pay 'time and a half' equal to $9.35 per hour. For working 50 hours in a week, I would get $403.50 for the entire week. As the hours worked during the week increased, the hourly rate of pay decreased. For example, if I worked 60 hours during the week, my base hourly rate was 5.17/hr. My over time rate at time and a half was $7.75/hr. My total pay for 60 hours in a week would be $465.00.

    I remember I once called the state employment officials or whatever and they explained that because I was considered "seasonal labor", this was perfectly legal. To be honest, I'm not sure whether this is regulated by the state or the federal laws. I have two very close friends from college who are both attorneys. They have helped me with LLC filings, collections...lots of stuff. But when it comes to labor laws, no on really knows anything.

    I did read an article in INC magazine some time ago wherein a lot of employees from larger corporations who had been laid off were suing their former employers for failure to pay overtime. They were on salary and their attorneys were able to successfully argue that their job did not meet the guidelines set forth by the fair labor standards act such that they should have been hourly and they were on salary. Some of these laid off workers were getting very large checks...north of six figures. There are all kinds of punitive damages that go along with this. Also, just fyi, that article said that the old 'comp time' rule, where a guy works 5 hours extra this week and gets 5 hours off later in the year is pure BS. The fair labor standards act makes absolutely no reference to comp time.

    As for me, I'm going to interview a couple of employment agencies as soon as things slow down. I figure if I can pay an extra $2/hr and not have to worry about workmans comp insurance, unemployment insurance, wrongful termination, payroll deductions and all the other BS that goes along with being an employer, I'll take 'em up on that.

  8. dave80

    dave80 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 42

    I am pretty sure that the rules are different for each state. Probably the best way to find out about your state is to e-mail or call the MA Department of Labor and Industry. I have always been able to get my questions answered this way, and they would be better able to explain to you the guidelines for your situation.

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