Fred Geonetta
By: Fred Geonetta

What Are the Differences Between Part-Time, Temporary, and Seasonal Workers?

Full-time employees work at least 40 hours a week. But what’s the difference between part-time employees, temporary employees, and seasonal workers?

A part-time employee typically works less than 35 hours a week in California and is usually paid an hourly salary. While a part-time worker should be held to the same standards as their full-time colleagues, such as adhering to company rules, workplace obligations, and so on, they may not receive the same benefits owed to their full-time employee counterparts.

A temporary employee, often referred to as a ‘temp,’ joins a company knowing that their employment should be expected to be short-lived. Temps are usually hired by businesses to cover for workers who are absent due to illness or another reason or to otherwise fill vacancies and shortcomings in the workforce. Oftentimes, temporary employees are hired by a temporary staffing agency, but they could be hired directly by the company. Temps may not be owed the same benefits that full-time employees or other company workers receive. However, they may potentially receive benefits provided by their temporary staffing agencies.

Seasonal employees are usually hired by businesses to help those businesses keep up with the demands of peak seasons like the winter holidays or the summer. When the seasonal peak has passed, the worker may expect to be let go.

Common places of employment that hire seasonal workers include:

  • Food and produce businesses, which need to hire extra workers during harvest.
  • Retail stores, often during the peak holiday season between November and December.
  • Tourist businesses, which often see their peak business over holidays, spring break, and summer vacation.

California has no law dictating how long a temporary employee can stay with a company. It is possible for ‘temporary’ workers to stay with a company for a long time, essentially becoming ‘permatemps.’

What Rights Do Temporary and Seasonal Workers Have in California?

Regardless of your status as a temp, part-time worker, or seasonal employee, you are owed legal rights under California and federal laws. These legal rights must be respected by your employer, regardless of your level of employment.

Your worker’s rights as temporary or seasonal workers in California include the following:

  • If you work at least five hours, you have the legal right to take an unpaid meal break. If you work 10 hours or more, you are allowed to take a second meal break.
  • The right to earn at least a minimum wage in California. Seasonal and temporary workers have the right to minimum wage. An employer does not have the right to diminish your salary in any way based on the type of work you perform. Additionally, you may be able to receive overtime pay or double pay depending on the amount of work you do.
  • The right to refuse a polygraph test. In certain circumstances, your employers may seek to have you take a polygraph. You do not have to. If you are forced to do so, speak with professional employment lawyers right away.
  • The right to work is part of a workforce without discrimination. If you have been discriminated against by a boss or fellow employee, you can seek legal action to hold them accountable for their discriminatory practices. Types of discrimination that are protected against in California include discrimination based on gender, race, ethnicity, religion, pregnancy status, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, and more.
  • You have the ability to accrue paid sick leave if you work more than 30 hours a week.
  • You have the express right to report safety issues without fear of retaliation or employment repercussions. If your workplace is unsafe and does not meet safety standards, you should report these issues to your superiors and any other necessary parties. If you are retaliated against as a result of reporting safety violations in the workplace, you can take legal action to defend your employment and labor rights.
  • You have the right to take a 10-minute break for every four hours you work on the job.

Are There Any Exceptions to These Rules?

California employment laws do provide some exceptions to these rules. For example, there are some employees, regardless of their temporary or full-time status, who may not be entitled to certain employment rights like sick leave.

These include:

  • Aviation cabin crew members.
  • Construction workers.
  • Home health care workers.
  • And employees who work under a collective bargaining agreement and earn more than 30% more than California’s current minimum wage.

Does a Temporary or Seasonal Worker Get Unemployment Benefits and Other Protections?

If injured on the job at your place of employment, a temporary seasonal worker may receive some level of workers compensation benefits.

Additionally, temporary seasonal employees may receive unemployment benefits.

Employers must comply with federal laws, including the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act. There are additional California laws regarding employers and who, how, and when they are allowed to lay off a certain number of employees.

California employers must provide a written notice to an employee they intend to lay off at least 60 days before the covered layoff.

What Happens if an Employer Violates California’s Temporary Employment Laws?

If an employer fails to follow California temporary employment laws, the worker may seek legal recourse. Temporary employees are protected by the state. They may file wage claims, employment discrimination claims, wrongful termination claims, and other later related matters to the California Department of Labor. It is also wise to retain the legal advice of professional employment attorneys.

If it can be proven that your California employer violated your worker’s rights, you may be able to recover lost income, lost benefits, punitive damages, and pain and suffering.

Schedule a Free Consultation with Experienced Employment Law Attorneys

Geonetta & Frucht, LLP has extensive experience representing clients in complex legal matters under labor law and employment law in California. Temporary workers have legal rights that deserve to be protected. If you believe that your rights have been violated in any way, you may seek legal action to hold your employers accountable.

Our legal team offers free consultations to all prospective new clients interested in discussing their employment law cases. Contact our Oakland law office at 510-254-3777. Or you may choose to contact our San Francisco law offices at 415-433-4589.

Fred Geonetta
By: Fred Geonetta

Frederick J. Geonetta is a graduate of the University of California, Hastings College of Law. His legal practice is entirely devoted to litigation. Mr. Geonetta has spent the past 25 years in private practice representing both plaintiffs and defendants who have been harmed or wronged by the actions of others or who have been falsely accused of causing harm to others. He represents clients across the U.S. and international clients who seek U.S. legal advice or representation.