Preparation for departure of seasonal workers
February 28, 2014
With just over a month left in the 2013-2014 ski season, seasonal workers with J-1 work visas from out of the country and those from throughout the United States are beginning to pack their bags in preparation for the end of their jobs.
Employers who were busy recruiting and looking for affordable housing for workers are now preparing to trim their payrolls.
"It is always difficult to find housing for all of the seasonal workers that make their way into town, but everybody seems to end up finding it anyway," said Scott Loomis, executive director of the Mountainlands Community Housing Trust.
He added that seasonal tenants leaving as soon as the ski season wraps up the second weekend in April should begin looking at the terms of their leases and leaving things the way they agreed to.
Nic Dunn, Utah Department of Workforce Services’ public information officer, said seasonal employees should also begin applying for unemployment benefits if they choose to stay in town or if they are permanent residents of Park City.
He said the first step would either be to visit http://www.jobs.utah.gov, walk into the employment center in town located at 1960 Sidewinder Dr., Suite 103 or call the office at 435-649-8451. Eligibility for unemployment benefits will then be determined.
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Scott Wakefield, regional sales manager at Wells Fargo Bank, said seasonal workers should also begin to make arrangements to send their paychecks back home if they have not made those arrangements already.
"One of the challenges is that these workers are on a delayed pay cycle, like most employees, which means that if they finish their last day, pack up and fly back to their home country that same day, their final paycheck will arrive several days later," he said. "Sometimes the check is mailed back to their home country, but if not, we offer services that send that money back."
When seasonal workers arrive and set up their Wells Fargo bank accounts, Wakefield said he informs them of a service called "Express Send." It allows seasonal employees to send money online that is directly deposited into their Wells Fargo account to the bank they use in their home country.
If an employer does not directly deposit, Wakefield said most of them are aware that they are the ones stuck with a paycheck if they allow employees to leave without making arrangements to send their checks to their home countries.
"They are the ones that field the phone calls asking, ‘How do I get my money back to me?’" he said. "We have worked with these resort groups so they know what kind of services we can provide to the employees."
Emily Summers, director of marketing at Deer Valley Resort, said she is grateful for the resort’s seasonal workers and hopes they make a smooth transition back home at the end of the season.
She and the human resources department work with the employees to let them know when they sign their contracts exactly when their jobs will end so they have an idea of when to start preparing to leave.
"They are told it’s a seasonal job, so they know when they will finish up their position, turn in their uniforms and clear out," Summers said. "They will soon begin filling out clearance forms and performing their exit interviews as their positions wrap up."
Of the 2,735 total employees at the resort, she said approximately 2,000 of them are seasonal employees. They also had a successful retention rate of 67 percent, meaning more than half stayed through the entire ski season. Many of Deer Valley’s seasonal employees 1,090, or 40 percent of the staff have worked at the resort for five seasons or more.
Chris Lampe, director of human resources at Park City Mountain Resort, said a large portion of their staff is also seasonal. Of the roughly 1,150 employees at PCMR, about 1,000 of them are seasonal, and approximately 35 percent of the seasonal employees have worked at PCMR for five or more winter seasons.
The summer season at PCMR begins Memorial Day Monday, May 26 and Lampe said those positions are first offered to the winter seasonal staff, but they are still looking to hire. Dunn said the Department of Workforce Services is more than happy to help residents or seasonal workers seek summer jobs.
Summers and Lampe agreed that the resorts could not operate through the ski season without the help of seasonal employees and are looking forward to seeing them back next year.
"We absolutely could not do this without them, that’s for sure," Summers said.
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