HR Support on Managing Part Time Employees

Editor's Note: Comply with applicable federal and state laws regarding part-time employees.

Marta MoakleyOverview: Part-time employees constitute a growing portion of the workforce. In a down economy, employers may reduce the severity of layoffs by providing employees with the option of part-time employment. In addition, job sharing has become a prevalent practice in certain sectors. Job sharing occurs when two or more employees share the responsibilities, workload and hours of one full-time equivalent position.

Part-time employees enjoy a number of legal protections, including full protection under equal employment opportunity, retirement benefits, worker's compensation, health and safety and wage and hour laws. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), part-time employees may be exempt or nonexempt.

Employers have many options with respect to the total reward packages offered to part-time employees. For example, an exempt part-time employee may be offered a more comprehensive benefits package than a non-exempt seasonal part-time employee. In a unionized or partially-unionized workplace, employers may have varying obligations under applicable collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) with respect to part-time employees.

Trends: Placing full time equivalent employees on part-time status may resolve compliance issues related to reasonable accommodations (as well as benefits coverage). For example, employers have accommodated employees who decline to work on Saturdays or Sundays based on religious obligations by placing those workers on part-time status.

Author: Marta Moakley, JD, Legal Editor

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