December 14, 2018 Healthcare and Benefits en_US Small Business Owners often struggle to know what benefits to offer their part-time employees. We will take a dive into what best practices meet the legal requirements and keep your staff happy. The Comprehensive Starter's Guide For Part-Time Employee Benefits
Healthcare and Benefits

The Comprehensive Starter's Guide For Part-Time Employee Benefits

By Megan Sullivan December 14, 2018

No matter how long you’ve been in business, you probably realized very quickly that your employees were one of, if not your greatest, asset. They are brand ambassadors, cheerleaders, triage specialists, and sales superstars all rolled into one.

Regardless if your employees are full- or part-time you want to treat them with the respect, and gratitude they deserve for helping you implement your vision and keep the doors open. Many employers, and especially small business owners, often have questions regarding benefits, especially when it comes to part-time employees.

What is required by law? What can you actually afford? What will help you the most to recruit and retain employees?

These are all valid questions that can feel like they have murky answers. Below we’ll review the good, the bad and the government-mandated when it comes to part-time employee benefits and why you should consider extending benefits to your part-time workers.

What is a part-time employee?

According to the Department of Labor, a part-time employee is anyone who works between 1 and 34 hours per week. Once you cross this threshold, the employee is considered full-time in the eyes of the government.

Are There Required Benefits for Part-Time Employees?

Kind of. These “benefits” are more no-brainer requirements that are true for all employees.

  • Paycheck deductions: Your full- and part-time employees must have FICA taxes deducted from their paychecks. You as the employer are also required to pay your portion of FICA taxes for each of your employees regardless of hours worked. You are also required to pay Social Security taxes
  • Overtime pay: The Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA) requires that all employees receive the same one and a half times their hourly wage. If your full-time employees get time and a half than your part-time employees should as well.
  • Unemployment Insurance: This is actually mandated by your state, so you’ll need to do a little fact-finding to see if you are required to pay for unemployment insurance for your part-time employees. This is a good place to start.
  • Worker’s Compensation: This is another benefit that is left up to the state government. Check out this site for more information.
  • Retirement benefits: Another requirement of the FLSA is that if you as the employer offer a retirement plan or options to your full-time employees, you must extend the same options to part-time staff.
  • Family Medical Leave Act: If you have 50 or more employees, regardless of status, you must honor the provisions of FMLA which require 12 weeks of unpaid leave for certain medical issues and reasons.
  • Disability Insurance: This is a requirement in the following states/territories: California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Puerto Rico.

Are There Other Benefits That Small Businesses Should Consider Offering to Part-Time Employees?

The short answer is yes. With a highly competitive job market, part-time and full-time workers are having their pick of employers and opportunities. Deciding to offer your part-time employees more benefits than one of your competitors can easily set you apart.

Here are some guidelines for investigating additional employee benefits for part-time workers.

Consider your full-time employee benefits

There’s nothing that says you can’t extend the same benefits to your part-time employees as you do your full-time. Typically, most businesses, large or small, make a distinction between the two benefit packages for two reasons: 1) you want your full-time employees to feel special and get more because they work for you full-time, and 2) it costs money to provide benefits.

Health Insurance is a Hot Topic

To be clear, you are not required to offer your part-time employees health insurance, even with the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However, since health insurance is such a hot button issue for many people, it’s something you might want to consider extending to your part-time staff. Plus, let’s face it, a sick employee isn’t much use to you. And you definitely don’t want someone bringing something to the office or workplace and risk infecting everyone else. If it makes financial sense for you to make this offer to your part-time workers, it is worth your time and consideration.

Paid Time Off

Again, there is no provision that states anyone is entitled to paid time off (full- or part-time), but you could consider offering your part-time employees the chance to accrue paid time off similar to their full-time counterparts. This could also include sick time accrual as well.

Flexible Schedules, Including Telecommuting

This will obviously depend on your type of business and how you interface with customers, but if you can offer your part-time employees the chance to work flexible schedules or telecommute for one or two shifts a week, you should.

This is a very low/no-cost option for you to extend to PT employees. You may feel that working a part-time schedule is all the flexibility an employee needs, but don’t overestimate the value of telecommuting. An unexpected electrician’s visit or a child getting sick at school can throw a wrench in anyone’s day. But if your employees can work from home, it’s a benefit to you both.

Commuting Assistance

Do you live in a large city with terrible traffic? Is parking at a premium? Do most of your employees take public transit to get to work?

If the answer to any of those questions was yes then offering commuting assistance is a huge boon to your part-time employees. You can also offer carpooling incentives as well.

Tuition Reimbursement

You’ve more than likely seen the headlines – young adults are graduating from college today with more debt than they know what to do with. An employer who is willing to provide help for an employee to pursue a degree will garner a lot of loyalty and appreciation. Truthfully, this is probably one of the more meaningful benefits you could offer any of your employees right now, part-time included. Here’s some information on how to make a tuition reimbursement program work for your small business.


Retirement planning is important for everyone. Even as a small business owner you can extend some of those benefits to your part-time employees. Whether you match your employees’ deductions is up to you, but giving them the choice to contribute to their retirement is one part-time employees will thank you for.

Is There Anything Else I Can Do? Some of Those Options Seem Pricey.

Good thing to ask – there are quite a few things you can do at your workplace that your employees will appreciate, but will cost you very little money. Here are a couple ideas:

  • Casual dress 24/7
  • Bring your dog to work day
  • Free food and drinks (besides coffee and stale donuts once a week)
  • Summer hours – if your workload allows this is a nice bonus during the warmer months

Whatever kind of benefits you decide to offer your part-time employees, your overall reason should be to show them your appreciation for their hard work. It will also make it easier for you to compete with other businesses in your area who may not be as generous.

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Megan Sullivan is a writer with experience in the advertising and digital media space. Read more