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Guide to Seasonal Employment Certification

Seasonal status precludes employers from being liable for unemployment benefits directly associated with seasonal work. The Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) will not use the wages earned in a seasonally certified occupation to establish an unemployment claim if all the criteria are met.

Seasonal certification does not relieve any employer from filing quarterly wage and employment detail reports. Contributory employers must still pay quarterly contributions on seasonal wages.

Table of Contents

What is seasonal employment?

One of the following requirements must be met to be considered certified seasonal employment:

  1. The entire business will be in operation for fewer than 20 weeks in a calendar year, or
  2. The employer has a functionally distinct occupation within the business that is only performed during a period of fewer than 20 weeks in a calendar year due to the climate or nature of the products or services.

functionally distinct occupation is one in which the assigned duties or tasks are identifiably distinct from the duties or tasks that are assigned to employees outside the seasonal period.

Adding more staff to perform the same or similar duties as those performed outside the season would not be considered seasonal. For example, if a camp administrator works year-round, a second camp administrator added solely during the season would not qualify as a seasonal employee. But camp counselors likely would qualify, as long as the season is for fewer than 20 weeks.

Additional Resources   for What is seasonal employment?

Applying for seasonal certification

Users seeking seasonal status must submit an online application at least 60 days prior to the beginning of the season, but not more than one year in advance of the season.

The certification process is annual. Failure to reapply for seasonal certification each year will result in the use of all wages paid during the base period in the establishment of benefit claims.

Submitting a seasonal certification application can be done through Unemployment Services for Employers. Users must include specific job descriptions for the positions being requested as seasonal. Please do not submit brochures, job applications, or titles such as “support staff” or “staff members”, as they will not fulfill this requirement.

  1. Once logged in to Unemployment Services for Employers, click View More Employer Details on the Employer Information panel, then click Additional Actions.
  2. On the Seasonal Certification panel, click Apply for Seasonal Certification.
  3. Review the required information, and then click Next.
  4. Indicate whether the location of the seasonal work is different from the mailing address provided. If the location is different, the user must enter the address, and then click Next.
  5. Complete the questions related to the seasonal operation including whether the entire business is seasonal, the number of working days in the seasonal work week, and seasonal employment dates. Click Next.
  6. Click Add Seasonal Occupation to add each occupation that is considered seasonal. Make sure to include specific job titles (e.g., summer camp canoe instructor, ski rental manager, snowplow operator, etc.).
  7. Click Add to add the occupation to the application.
  8. Repeat steps 9 and 10 for each occupation that is seasonal.
  9. Click Next.
  10. Click Add Attachment to add any supporting documentation.
  11. Enter a description of the attachment, and then click Choose File to select the appropriate file from the user’s device. Note: Attachments should not include brochures or job applications. Click Next.
  12. Click the check box to indicate the information provided is correct to the best of the user’s knowledge.
  13. Click Submit. 

Once submitted, the application is reviewed by DUA staff. A determination will be issued for both approved and denied applications, and the user will receive a notification in the Action Center of their Unemployment Services for Employers account.

Maintaining certified seasonal status

Once users become a certified seasonal employer, they must comply with the following reporting and notification requirements:

  • Display the Seasonal Determination and the Certification as a Seasonal Employer Notice in multiple locations within your business for inspection by employees. These notices will be provided by the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA).
  • Notify employees of their seasonal status in writing before hire or immediately following the seasonal determination by DUA:
    • All seasonal employees must sign and date the Notice to Employee Certification as a Seasonal Employer provided by DUA.
    • Retain the completed copies of all signed Notice to Employee forms. DUA will request a copy of the signed Notice to Employee form if an employee files an unemployment claim.

Responsibilities when a claim is filed

Complete all forms from DUA

If users receive a monetary determination, a Lack of Work Notification, or a Request for Wage Information Questionnaire, please complete the form(s) and submit to DUA.

In the comment section, indicate that the position is DUA Certified Seasonal and the wages should not be used to establish a claim.

Submit completed forms to DUA

Email a copy of the completed form or monetary determination to DUASeasonalCert@mass.gov.

The subject line of the email should read: FFQ/Certified Seasonal Use of Wages.

DUA will create an issue on the claim

An issue will be created and a customized fact-finding questionnaire will be issued.

If all criteria are met, a determination will be issued and the certified seasonal wages will be removed from the claim.

Seasonal employment over 20 weeks

If the seasonal employment equals or exceeds 20 weeks in a calendar year, users must notify DUA within 5 days after completion of the 20th week of employment. A redetermination will be issued and seasonal status will be revoked.

Appealing a seasonal certification determination

If users are denied seasonal certification status, they have the right to appeal DUA's determination within 10 calendar days of the mailing date of the determination.

Financial responsibility

  • Seasonal certification does not relieve any employer from filing quarterly wage and employment detail reports.
  • Contributory employers must still pay quarterly contributions on seasonal wages.
  • Employers are required to keep an account of and report wages paid to each seasonal worker within the seasonal period.

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