winter lay-offs...PLEASE ADVISE!!!!


LawnSite Senior Member
Eastern NC
Do you guys lay off your help in the winter months? I am finding it harder to justify paying help during this time. I am a small operator. I have a full time job and pay someone else to maintain accounts during the week. On the weekends I can do the work. I don't want to let him go because I hate to do that to him, also I don't think he would be back next year to help. Yet at the same time, it is putting a STRAIN on me now. What to do?? Are you a single operator or do you have help?? How do you utilize your help in the slow winter months?

Green Acres

LawnSite Senior Member
We ask our customers if there is anything else they need done besides lawn care. For example we have been doing some tree removal/trimming, gutter cleaning, retaining walls, etc. For one customer we are going to tear down an old shed for him. The money might not be as good as in the summer but it helps.
Hello everybody:

I see you live in NC. Is all your contracts year round or what?

It's to hard to answer & It's none of my business.

I kept my guys during the winter & they only had about half the work to do. But we had mainly year rounders & a very few callers when they need ya. I did seek extra work in the winter & it helped out a lot.

I made a lot more money in the winter, than summer & it was easy to keep them. They worked like dogs for me in the summer & if it wasn't for them I would not have been on easy street during winter. That's why they worked so hard.

If you can't keep him, you can't keep him. Your family come first & then you, then everybody else.

It's a tuff call & hard to make. I've been there & done that. Family always comes first. But Money is not everything either?

Would it be worth it for you to keep him during the winter. Can he do the accounts without you bird dogging him watching every move he makes. Does he go out & do a good job for you. The answer to these questions should point you in the right direction.

Believe me it's hard to find Mr. Perfect!

I wish you & yours the best of everything!


LawnSite Senior Member
Eastern NC
C'mon guys, 64 views and only two responses?? I thank the two who DID respond, and I am grateful ... but I see what people mean by all of the "lurkers" on the site. If I had asked the tired old question: "exmark or toro" I would have been bombarded with responses.

[Edited by lakegastonla on 12-04-2000 at 11:08 AM]

Richard Martin

LawnSite Fanatic
Greenville, NC
Yes, I laid off my part-timer just last week. This is the first year I don't think I will have to get a job over the winter. Hopefully between the money I put away, the wife's wages, the bills I paid up until April and the work I can squeeze out of my customers I can make it this winter.

What you really need to do is ask yourself some questions:

Can I justify taking money out of my pocket over the whole winter to pay the help? The winter is just starting and if you are having trouble paying him now...

During the course of the summer while your help was earning you money did you put any of it away to pay your help over the winter?

Over a 12 month period does your help put money in your pocket or take it out?

When you answer the last question don't forget to add overhead to the cost of employing your help. It can be difficult to calculate the overhead that is attributed to your help particularly in the areas of job costing and office expense.

Job costing includes such items as vehicle expenses, insurance, equiptment purchasing and maintenance etc. In other words, what does it cost me to do this job?

Office expense includes items like time spent doing paperwork, software, computer costs, postage etc.



Moderator, Friend, Angel
South East
Gastonia, patients is not a virtue for you huh? First off when you first hire someone. You need to have in writing what his duties are and how he is to be paid. Also in this agreement put in there if this is just seasonal work or all year around work. The man you have now needed to know this when he was first hired. So he either would not take the job or he would plan to have another job for the winter. If he is a good worker and can't get a job for the winter. You risk losing a good man and they are hard to find. Very important to have an agreement up front with the next employees you hire
Just let him go. If you are legal and paid into the state unemployment fund and if the employee has enough "quarters" worked he is entitled to draw a check for 26 weeks total.

The whole idea is to recruit an employee that WANTS to get laid off in the winter and considers this action as a benefit.

Personally if I wanted to work 50 weeks a year I would get a REAL job.


LawnSite Senior Member
South West PA
Once again, Stone is right. I did the math a few years ago, and figured out that an employee that worked steady throughout the season, and collected unemployment benefits throughout the 3.5 month off season, would come out very close to an employee that was making wages working 52 weeks per yeat. I forget the exact numbers, but it was somwthing like this:

Employee works foe me 8.5 months per year, making $10/hr, and collects unemployment benefits for the remaining 3.5months. This total dollar amount for the year equaled him working at a year round job and making $9/hr.

The yearly total difference was very minimal. Problem was getting employees to see that they could make the same $$$, and get a 3.5 month vacation.

Some industries salaries are actually built around a seasonal layoff.
By paying the employee hourly (that's if you are babysitting him/her)with overtime the 2nd quarter will be higher that the third quarter. In PA the employee UC comp rate is based on 1/2 of wages earned in the highest quarter worked in past recent history.

The employers contribution is about $800 (10% of the first $8k of wages paid)yearly per employee.


LawnSite Senior Member
NE Ohio
I agree w/ charles... This is seasonal work and he should expect to be laid off during the slow season. He should also understand that he will be hired on full time next year. Tell him that he will make the money on unemployment and you will up his pay rate next year if/when he comes back. This will give hime some incentive to come back and he also gets a 3 mo. vacation...