Ask HR: How to handle seasonal lay offs.

Dear HR,

We are going to be laying off employees sporadically throughout the winter. We won’t be able to predict precisely when because our business is weather and road condition related. How can we be responsible employers and let our staff know?  Are there any details we need to consider?

HR Answer:

Giving advance notice provides employees and their families time to transition and adjust to the prospective loss of employment may be legally required.  Large employers (100+ employees) must give notice to employees at least 60 days prior to a layoff date. The notice requirement does not apply to small employers or employees involved in seasonal employment. However, to be safe, it is a best practice to comply with both Federal and state labor laws concerning employee notifications of layoffs & payroll deadlines.

There are federal and state rules and regulations that govern when an employee’s check must be paid. The timelines for issuing a “final paycheck” vary based on the reason why the separation occurred.



• An employee who is fired (or laid off) is entitled to a final paycheck immediately, meaning at the time of termination or layoff. 

• If an employee quits without giving advance notice, the employer must provide the final paycheck within 72 hours. 

• If an employee quits and gives at least 72 hours’ notice, the employee is entitled to the final paycheck immediately, meaning on his or her last day.  


Many states have steep penalty wages for paying final wages late

In California and Oregon, failing to pay any part of an employee´s final wages on time causes the compensation due to the employee to continue to rack-up— at the same regular hourly rate (for eight hours per day) until the wages are paid! This penalty can be applied to up to a 30-day penalty. The penalty applies in full whenever an employee is still owed compensation after the final paycheck deadline passes.

Communicate employee status changes immediately to Cardinal by calling or emailing our Hiring Team at to stay compliant with all state and Federal laws.