Part-time employees can be advantageous to a small business looking to expand. These employees can support existing teams at a fraction of the cost it might take to hire full-time employees. It's also a great way to reach candidates you might otherwise have overlooked or not been in contact with due to availability issues. Part-time employees are particularly helpful for retail businesses that need the flexibility to meet increased seasonal demands during the holidays and summer.
As helpful as part-time staff might be, there are still challenging components to the part-time recruitment process. If your business is considering offering part-time benefits to employees, we've got you covered. There are many factors to consider, many of which must be in accordance with state and federal government regulations.
This guide can help you decide which employee benefits to provide part-time employees.
What Is Part-Time Employment?
Part-time employment is defined as an employee who works fewer hours than a full-time employee at a given business. The number of hours that part-time employees work will vary depending on the company and industry. However, the average business defines part-time employment as working anywhere between 20 and 30 hours per workweek. This definition is according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which specifies that part-time workers are typically employees who work less than 35 hours per workweek compared to full-time workers who work more than 35 hours per workweek.
The minimum number of working hours for part-time employees is generally 20 hours per week. However, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) doesn't currently provide a definition for part-time employment. In fact, the FLSA doesn't provide a definition for part- or full-time jobs. The U.S. Department of Labor doesn't specify definitions for a full-time or part-time workforce, either.
As such, an employer can determine what constitutes part- or full-time work depending on what's required for the industry or a specific individual and comply with federal law. For example, a worker employed in the restaurant industry might be considered a part-time employee if they have a consistent schedule of four hours per week wherein they're expected to remain on call for additional shifts should the need arise.
Before your business decides to hire any part-time employees, make sure you have a detailed policy outlining what constitutes a part-time worker at the business. This should also include information on what employee benefits will be offered along with the compensation package (if any benefits are offered at all).
Benefit Options for Part-Time Employees
As a small business owner, you have the freedom to decide which benefits you'd like to provide to your part-time employees — if any are provided at all. On top of a competitive salary, including benefits in your compensation package is a great way to keep employee retention up for long-term expansion and support. The question remains: What benefit options should you offer your part-time employees?
For some businesses, it's helpful to reduce part-time benefits packages to only include standard benefits like what's included within statutory benefits for full-time workers, such as Social Security benefits, workers' compensation insurance, and unemployment insurance.
For others, it's more cost-effective to offer a comprehensive benefits package. This is an employee benefit plan that includes the standard benefits offered to most U.S. employees. It generally includes health care, wellness programs, time off from work, meal periods, and financial security benefits, or benefits that contribute to the financial well-being of the employee. You might also consider offering a reduced benefits package as a third alternative. Contact professionals in your human resources department to gain a better understanding of how these benefits impact individuals with part-time status.
No matter the approach you take to developing your part-time employee benefits package, here are some that should be considered for your company policy.
Health and wellness benefits can include medical insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, and more. While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) doesn't require employers with less than 50 full-time employees to provide health insurance, it's a critical need that can make or break your compensation package offered to eligible candidates. If you don't offer the minimum expectations for benefits, a potential employee could choose to walk away from your employment offer. Aside from securing a new employee to your team, health insurance benefits are also essential to keep your team happy, healthy, and productive. Who would want to run a business that could care less about its staff? More importantly, who would want to work at one?
Eligibility to offer particular health insurance to part-time employees will vary depending on state laws and specific policies of health insurance carriers. The same goes for dental and vision insurance, as these can all vary depending on federal policies and local laws. Some employers might opt to offer a health and wellness stipend instead of formal health insurance. You might consider this option for employees working part-time hours if your current business prospects don't leave much wiggle room for generous or costly part-time employee benefits.
As part of your wellness benefits offered to part-time employees, you might consider some less costly options that still contribute to the happiness and overall well-being of your non-exempt employees. This might include flexible work options, where part-time employees can opt to work remotely for a particular number of days. Another option is to offer wellness benefits in the form of tickets to sporting, music, or festival events. Providing your part-time positions with the opportunity to enjoy some form of entertainment outside of work is a great way to retain staff, increase team morale and engagement, and contribute to the mental wellness of your employees.
Paid Time Off
Paid time off is a standard benefit offered to employees to help keep a business functioning efficiently throughout the year. Paid time off is typically offered in the form of vacation time, where an employee can take a break from work with or without pay.
Sick Leave and Medical Leave
Another standard benefit provided to part-time employees is sick leave and medical leave. Ethical business practices expect an employer to make necessary adjustments to an employee's schedule, whether they are part- or full-time workers, should a medical emergency arise or if the employee is not well and unfit to work. Additionally, sick leave ensures that employees stay productive and motivated, keeps other employees safe and healthy, and protects a business from any legal liabilities. Personal and sick days are generally expected to be provided by an employer regardless of a benefits package that is offered.
Retirement plans are the most standard financial benefit available to part-time employees if any are offered. This might include a 401(k) plan, for example, where employees can set aside part of their compensation to a retirement savings plan. Some businesses might be legally required to offer a qualified retirement plan to part-time employees depending on the total number of hours worked and other annual factors of consideration.
Life insurance is another financial security benefit you might consider offering part-time employees. Life insurance is typically given to full-time employees, as it's a great incentive for an employee to stay longer at a particular job. If you hope to keep your part-time employees for the long haul, it might be cost-effective to offer life insurance in your part-time compensation package.
Student Loan Assistance
Student loan assistance is an additional benefit that offers great financial incentives for part-time employees to join a company. While it might be considered a generous benefit to include for a part-time employee, it's a great way to set your business apart from any competing employers who might be interested in the same candidates. Partial tuition reimbursement is also a great way to recruit college students who have recently graduated and are looking to get started in the industry, particularly if you are a large employer with the capability to offer generous benefits to both part- and full-time status workers.
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Notice to the Reader
The content within this article is meant to be used as general guidelines and may not apply to your specific situation. Always consult with a qualified attorney or another legal professional to ensure that your employment practices are in accordance with federal and state labor laws, standards, and regulations.