Navigating Health Care for Part-time Employees

Are you legally required to provide health care for part-time employees? In the eyes of the federal government, a full-time employee is one who works at least 30 hours per week and does so for at least 120 days of the year. Part-time employees work an average of fewer than 30 hours per week. It’s important to recognize this difference and what specific requirements you, as an employer, have in this situation.

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What Does the Law Say About Part-time Employee Benefits?

In 2010, the Affordable Care Act went into place and mandated that larger employers provide, at a minimum, group health insurance to all employees who are considered full-time. Larger employers also had to provide benefits to at least 95 percent of their workforce. There’s no federal law that states employers must provide benefits to all workers. The guidelines indicate that employers with 50 or more employees must meet this standard.

Employers have no legal requirement to provide health insurance to part-time employees. This is true even if the employer provides health insurance to full-time employees. Employers can, of course, elect to offer this coverage to their employees.

First, employers with numerous part-time employees may need to provide benefits to all workers to meet their 95 percent obligation. Also, keep in mind that state laws differ. Some states may make health insurance mandatory. Lastly, this law is changing regularly. Monitor for requirements on a routine basis through HealthCare.gov.

Additionally, employers are required to track and report on the number of hours their employees work. This is perhaps one of the more complex components to this law as employees who work more than scheduled or begin filling in for absent employees. Monitoring this is critical to remain in compliance with this federal law.

Why Do Employers Benefit From Offering Coverage?

Employers may not have to provide health care to employees, but doing so offers a number of key benefits to the employer. In industries with few skilled workers, such as roofing, manufacturing and IT positions, offering health care for part-time employees may help to fill open positions faster. As ManpowerGroup detailed, skilled trades, drivers and sales representatives are some of the hardest positions to fill and may be part-time worker positions.

Employers may be able to fill more difficult positions by offering health care to part-time employees. This may include odd-hour jobs or weekend work. Part-time employees may be more loyal to stay with a company that offers such benefits rather than moving to another employer.

Employers who offer health care for part-time employees may have an advantage over organizations that don’t. While the law may limit your legal obligation to provide this coverage at this time, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible to do so.

Sandy Baker is a full-time freelance writer specializing in health, personal finance and internet marketing. Her long-term history online has included publications with companies including Marriott Hotels, The New York Times and dozens of other small and medium-sized businesses. She is also published in print with award-winning books such as The Complete Guide to Estate Planning, Complete Guide to Early Retirement, The Complete Bankruptcy Guide for Consumers and Small Businesses and The Complete Guide to Organic Lawn Care.