part time employees and no benefits

In our employee handbook, we explain that part-time employees work less than 30 hours per week. We state that this classification is not eligible for company benefits such as holiday pay, vacation pay, health insurance, etc. Is there a legal problem with this classification?


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  • No. But you need to make sure that your summary plan description (medical benefit plan) defines eligible employees as those who work more than 30 hours per week. And you need to make sure that the "part time" employees are not worked more than 30 hours per week. Some employers have been caught, because they worked their "part time employees" more hours without providing benefits, even though under the plan, the employees were eligible.

    Good Luck!
  • In addition, working employees over 30 hours on more than an occasional basis is a real bummer for morale, because to many employees benefits are just as important as $$. While this type of policy is OK, it can create difficulties in hiring and retention. When the time is right, you might want to consider adding pro-rata benefits to your benefit package, especially if part timers are important to you.
  • Rich, Good morning somewhere I have a reference to benefits and part-time employees. Our employee handbook/company policy speaks to the non-benefit category, but considers 32 hours a week as the threash hold for consideration as a full-time regular permanent employee. Any time that a part-time employee exceeds 32 hours of work during a week for a consistent 16 weeks, then the employee is automatically advanced to full-time permanent employee status and entitled to all rights and benefits of the full time regular permanent employee. This provision in our handbook is supported by federal law but I can not put my eyes on the provision in the law. It, also clearly states, that any break in the 16 consective week provision starts the 16 week period for consideration all over again. Make sure you have a procedure in place that will catch those part-timers working over 32 hours before the 16 week fact. This provision was pointed out to my company during a DOL audit about 10 years ago. I do not believe that interpretation has changed. When I find the specific legal reference I'll post it or e-mail you on it.

    The individual was a college student and worked afternoons only in MIS Management Information Systems). No one noticed during the 2nd semester that his school hours changed and he was able to get in a few more hours. Those few more hours allowed him to get about 34 and 35 hours a week! He kept his own record of time and turned it in to his supervisor, who signed it and sent into payroll, who calculated the time and we paid him, accordingly. After graduation, he was hired full time and he wanted something. I forget what the specific request was, but he filed an EEOC/DOL claim. He produced the evidence for the amount of time worked for which we paid without question. Our payroll records was his proof that he should have been given all rights and benefits of a full time regular permanent employee. He won because we were not looking. Good luck Pork
  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 10-02-02 AT 07:57AM (CST)[/font][p]Pork,

    I noticed that you used the word "Permanent". I hope that your employee handbooks do not use that word as it could be used against you in court by implying that an employee has the job for "life". I would recommend that you remove that word and use the word "regular" in it's place. You should also re-issue that page of your handbook with the new terminology.


  • Pork, when you refer to the "DOL" are you talking Federal, or State? My understanding is that benefits such as medical and PTO are not guaranteed under Federal law as wages are. In the absence of a contractual agreement with your workforce, your company can give or take away benefits at will. If I am wrong, please let me know IMMEDIATELY, and if you could cite the appropriate regulation that would be great. Thank you very much.
  • Don't forget to check any retirement plans your company may sponsor as well. Make sure that the part time employees are not meeting the requirements of plan eligibility. A common eligibility requirement for plans might be that the employee works 1,000 hours in a plan year or in a service year. If an employee is working 30 hours a week they can reach that threshold in 33 weeks. You can exclude classes of employees by definition from retirement plan coverage, but this is tricky area and you'll want to consult with your plan document provider(s) or an ERISA attorney.

    Good luck.
  • Understanding there are reasons we should carefully use the terms "always" and "never":

    Part time positions serve important functions within the organization, and these employees warrant recognition for their contributions. Although they may not qualify for regulated benefits (insurance, 401(k), etc.), they deserve validation through prorated company benefits (PTO, holidays, etc).

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