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What Is a Part-Time Employee?
There are no laws that specifically define what a part-time employee is. Basically, it’s someone who works fewer hours than whatever you define full-time to be. That means you have a lot of flexibility to decide how your organization will use them.
The number of part-time workers in the workforce has grown a lot within the past 30 years. Many people want greater flexibility with work and a better work-life balance, so they turn to part-time jobs to find this flexibility.
Determining Full-Time vs Part-Time
The main difference between a full-time employee and a part-time employee is the hours worked, and the hours worked to determine the benefits typically given. A full-time employee typically works more than 30 hours each week, and this requires that you provide certain benefits, partly due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The ACA requires employers with 50 or more full-time employees to provide health care coverage to all employees who work an average of 30 or more hours a week during a specific measurement period (most ACA measurement periods range from 3 to 12 months). If you don’t want to provide health care coverage for part-time employees, be sure they work an average of fewer than 30 hours per week. As long as this average is maintained, the employee can work as few or as many hours as your organization needs them to work.
As long as you keep the ACA requirement in mind, you have a lot of flexibility to determine what a part-time employee looks like at your organization. You can require that part-time employees work a minimum number of hours per week if you want to be sure you have enough coverage. You can hire regular or temporary part-time employees; temporary staff might be hired for a certain number of days to help during a busy time of year.
With this flexibility in mind, we will look at what it could mean for your organization if you decided to hire part-time employees.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Hiring a Part-Time Employee
Part-time employees are a terrific addition to an organization and can provide many benefits, but it’s important to ensure they will be the right fit. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages you will encounter if you hire part-time employees at your organization.
Part-Time Employee Advantages
There are many advantages to hiring a part-time employee, especially the ability to recruit a more diverse workforce. Let’s look at how these advantages will help you.
- Lower costs. Many part-time positions earn less than equivalent full-timers, so the wages may be cheaper. Also, you don’t have to offer the benefits you do for your full-time employees.
- More employees are available to work. You are often able to hire more people, since you pay them lower wages than full-time employees. It is also easier to hire temporary part-time workers if you are busier during certain months of the year, and then you don’t have to worry about keeping temporary workers during your slower months.
- Greater flexibility. Multiple part-time employees covering one role provide greater flexibility than one full-time employee. You will be able to find employees who want to work different hours. For example, students might want to work in the evening and take classes during the day, and parents might want to work during the mornings and have the afternoon and evenings free. Part-time status provides greater flexibility for the employee and employer.
- Diverse workforce. Not everyone who works can work a full-time schedule. If you hire part-time employees, you will be able to recruit single parents, people who are retirement age (who have a lot of experience but only want to work a few hours a week), students, and many other highly skilled individuals that just can’t work full-time.
Part-Time Employee Disadvantages
While there are benefits to hiring part-time employees, there are some disadvantages you should be aware of.
- Higher turnover. Part-time jobs typically have more turnover than full-time jobs. This could lead to spending more on recruitment and training costs. You can find ways to prevent high turnover, like providing some benefits or giving exceptional part-time employees the option to transition to full-time.
- Employees are less available to you. Your part-time employees need to maintain an average of less than 30 hours a week, which means they won’t be at the job location as often as full-time employees.
- Difficult to schedule. It might be difficult to nail down a regular schedule for your part-time employees because they might have another part-time job or other interests that conflict with this job.
- Lower engagement. Some part-time employees might not plan on staying with the company long-term, and this could cause them to be less engaged in the workplace.
Should Your Organization Hire Part-Time Employees?
Now that you know some of the advantages and disadvantages, you need to determine if part-time employees are the right fit for your organization. Let’s look at some situations when it would be best for you to hire a part-time employee.
- You have a difficult position to fill. You might have a job that has overnight or weekend hours or causes burnout quickly. In this case, it might be best to fill this position with part-time employees because you can give these undesirable hours or difficult jobs to many employees to help spread out the difficulty of the work.
- A full-time employee needs more flexibility. Maybe you have a great full-time employee who is getting burned out or has a lot going on in their personal life, and you want to keep them at the company. This is the perfect time to give this employee the option to work part-time for a few weeks or months.
- Small budget. You might have an important project or job to be done that requires an employee with a lot of experience, but you might not be able to give this employee a large salary if they work full-time, so hiring someone part-time will allow you to pay them well for the hours they spend working. An employee with a lot of experience will likely be able to get a lot of work done on a part-time schedule.
- Seasonal business. As mentioned earlier, it can be easier to hire part-time employees temporarily. If your organization is especially busy for a few months of the year, it might be best to hire part-time temporary employees to reduce payroll when you are in a slow season.
Tips for Managing Part-Time Employees
There are more part-time employees in the workforce than ever before, which means you will have more applicants who have experience with part-time work and a desire to work part-time. With so many people seeking a part-time schedule, you want to ensure your part-time employees feel like they are valued members of your organization. Here are some tips to ensure your part-time employees have an excellent work experience with you.
Treat Part-Time Employees as Equal Contributors
There can be a misconception that part-time employees are not as qualified, important, or necessary as full-time employees, and this is just not true. Part-time employees bring a lot of knowledge and skill and add value to any organization. If you do hire part-time employees, ensure they are treated fairly and are seen as valuable by everyone in the organization.
Create Standardized Training and Policies
To help part-time employees feel as important and valued as full-time employees, create a standard process for training and onboarding. Have standard policies and expectations for all part-time employees, and use the same policies you created for the full-time employees at your organization. This will make the hiring and onboarding of your part-time employees more efficient and show the employees you value them enough to provide them with the same level of training as your full-time employees.
You are not required by law to offer benefits to part-time employees, but it is an excellent way to attract and retain the best employees. Many qualified workers just can’t work full-time but still need benefits. Providing benefits can help you reach a greater number of applicants. Consider offering things like health care, tuition reimbursement, money for childcare expenses, vacation days, and sick days. If you decide to offer benefits like this, it is best to provide them on an accrual-based plan. For example, for every month an employee works, they earn one vacation day. You can also require employees to work a minimum number of hours each week to be eligible for certain benefits. Providing benefits to part-time employees helps set your company apart from competitors and pays off in the long run because it attracts top performers to your organization.
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Lexi is a current student at BYU pursuing her undergraduate degree in HR Management. After graduation, Lexi will work as an HR Generalist for Cummins Inc. Lexi has a passion to improve the lives of others and help them on their career journey. She continues to improve her knowledge and experience in the HR field and is looking forward to sharing this knowledge with others.
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