Part-time workers are fully protected under workers'
compensation for on-the-job injuries, minimum wage, and health and
safety laws. They are also covered by laws prohibiting discrimination
based on race, creed, nationality, sex, age, and disability. Employers
should be aware of the various federal and state law requirements
of employing part-time staff, including:
Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). Retirement plans may in most cases condition
eligibility on completing a year of service. An employee who works
at least 1,000 hours during the 12-month eligibility computation period
must be credited with a year of service. Thus, part-time employees
who work 20 hours per week for the whole year will become eligible
to participate in retirement plans unless otherwise excluded.
In addition, all such years of service must be counted
to determine an employee's vested benefits. An employee who works
at least 500 hours during the 12-month eligibility computation period
does not incur a 1-year break in service for eligibility and vesting
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Part-time
employees must be paid minimum wage.
Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). All employees must work 1,250 hours in the previous year to be eligible
for FMLA leave. Many part-time employees may not qualify for this
Healthcare insurance. Employers
often condition eligibility for group health plan participation on
working a specified minimum number of hours per week or month. Federal
law and many state laws require that employees who lose group health
insurance coverage because the number of hours that they work has
been reduced be given the option to continue in the group health plan.
For example, the federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (commonly known as COBRA) requires that employees and their dependents
who lose coverage because of a reduction in hours worked may elect
up to 18 months of continued coverage. Individuals who elect COBRA
may be required to pay a premium of up to 102 percent of the cost
of such coverage.
Union representation. Any employee
who works over 10 hours per week is allowed to vote in representation
elections and be included in the bargaining unit. However, most unions
have not organized part-time employees.
Withholding. Part-time employees
who earn taxable wages are subject to withholding for income tax,
Social Security, and unemployment tax.
Last updated on February 9, 2016.