More Part Time Jobs Are Offering Employee Benefits

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It has long been understood that companies offering full-time jobs generally offer company-sponsored group health benefits, while part-time workers get none, if any, of the same perks. It’s one of the reasons why so many people still continue to work full time and juggle the demands of raising a family and other personal commitments.

During the early days of health care reform, the rumor was that employers would start cutting full-time jobs and reduce workforces to part-time roles only in an attempt to avoid paying for benefits — a practice that is unethical and results in Affordable Care Act (ACA) violations for the employers who went down this road. Consequently, the ACA requires minimum benefits for all employees who work at least an average of 30 hours or more weekly, and all employers are now required to report this annually to the Internal Revenue Service.

Part Time Benefits in the USA

It is estimated that on average, one-third of part-time employees in America are offered some type of standard employee benefits. In July of 2014, The US Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics published a special report Employee Benefits in the United States, which details the availability of benefits currently available to workers in the USA.

The DOL report indicated that only around 23 percent of part-time workers in the private sector have access to medical care benefits, while 86 percent of full-time workers have this benefit. Further, 37 percent of part-time workers have access to retirement plans, and 74 percent of full-time workers do. 24 percent of part-time workers have access to paid sick leave, as compared to 74 percent of full-time workers. 37 percent of part-time employees who work in the private sector are offered paid holidays, while 30 percent do in the government sector.

The Employee Benefits Landscape is Improving for Part-Time Employees

The good news is that all of this is changing as the job market increasingly becomes one that is more candidate-focused. Employers need good people and the only way to attract and retain a solid workforce is by offering generous salaries and benefits. The competition is fierce for many labor skill sets. This is why more companies that provide part-time assignments are also stepping things up with unique benefits for employees who work in part-time and flexible jobs.

For the most part, employees who work at least 20 hours per week are generally eligible for some types of employee benefits. Oftentimes, larger companies with 1,000 or more employees, have greater access to group benefit plans that part-timers can take advantage of.

It's important to note, however, that even if regular health benefits are offered by employers, the deductibles and out-of-pocket costs can be slightly higher for part-time workers. Employers may also have policies in place that delay the start of part-time benefits, such as 3 to 6 month waiting periods before benefits kick in. They do this because of high turnover costs typically seen with part-time and seasonal workers.

More Perks and Benefits for Part-Time Workers

Employers often make up for these factors by offering additional and sometimes unusual benefits and perks for part-time employees such as:

  • Free uniforms, beverages, and meals for part-time workers on the clock
  • Onsite corporate wellness programs and fitness centers
  • Group discounts for voluntary benefits and lifestyle need products
  • Access to discounted medical services via a local health care network
  • On-the-job training and certification opportunities for all workers

The future of part-time employee benefits is up for debate, but in many workplaces, there is no divide between the benefits offered to full time vs. part-time employees. More employers are putting an emphasis on maintaining a healthy and productive workforce, and employee benefits are at the center of this movement.