While part-time employment positions sometimes conjure up an image of low-wage or dead-end jobs, this does not have to be the case for your organization. HR professionals can leverage part-time positions to benefit both the organization and the employee by enhancing current part-time positions, creating more professional part-time positions and allowing full-time employees the flexibility to go part time if need be. Recognizing the value that part-time positions can provide for your organization starts with treating both part-time and full-time employees as critical to the organization’s success. Consider these strategies and cautions relating to part-time employment positions or transitions.
What is a Part-time Employee?
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not provide a definition for part-time or full-time employment. Therefore, employers may set their own definitions of part-time employees, typically within the constraints of their benefits providers.
However, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the definition for a part-time employee is one who averages less than 30 hours of service per week or less than 130 hours of service per month. Any employee who meets the ACA criteria of part-time status does not need to be offered health benefits, though the employer may choose to do so.
Organizations develop part-time employee strategies for many reasons. As previously mentioned, part-time employees do not need to be offered health benefits, which can save an organization significant sums that would otherwise go toward employee health insurance premiums. Asking employees to reduce work hours can be an effective way to help organizations avoid layoffs. Providing current and potential employees with the scheduling flexibility of part-time employment is also a very effective recruitment and retention tool. If your organization does not already employ part-time workers, look at current positions and consider where you could accommodate part-time employees.
Transitioning an employee from full-time to part-time status requires careful consideration and planning. HR professionals need to be clear on the criteria that constitute a change from full-time to part-time employment to avoid suggesting that anyone can be approved for part-time status. Failing to do so could open the organization to possible discrimination claims. Consider implementing a formal approval process for transitioning an employee from full-time to part-time status, and make sure that managers understand the parameters for approval and denial. This will help avoid arriving at biased decisions based on favoritism.
Another caution surrounds the need for an updated job description when an employee transitions from full to part time. Because the reduction in hours will inevitably change the employee’s duties, performance goals and pay rate, a new job description is a must. It is not uncommon for an employee who transitions from full time to part time to find they carry the same workload with reduced hours and pay. Avoid this by working with the employee and manager to craft a revised job description prior to the transition. HR professionals should also help managers decide how to absorb the duties no longer covered by the employee, and monitor whether any of the duties have snuck back into the employee’s workload.