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Part-time status and benefits New Jersey

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  • Part-time status and benefits New Jersey

    I decided to post this since the question came in to me in the Compliance Office. Just wanted to see if there are any other opinions on it aside from what our HR dept says.

    We have full time, part time and "per diem" employees. In our field "per diem" means staff who are called in for coverage on an as-needed basis.

    Our employee handbook states that full time= 40 hours a week, part-time = 20-39 hours per week, and per diem= as-needed, up to 19 hours in a week.

    A few per diems have been doing extra hours and worked over 20 hours during a few weeks, and they have gotten corrective action notices for this.
    They are complaining, of course.

    HR said that if they work 20 hours, they must be reclassified as part time, and then we must give then the benefits that part timers get. If we don't, we'll be in trouble with Wage & Hour. So we forbid them from working 20 hours,a nd write them up if they go over.

    The employees asked for the NJ labor law that states this. HR's response was that it doesn't matter where the law is; it's in our policy handbook and therfore they must adhere to it. I agree, it's in the handbook, so within the company, it's "law," unless it it found to violate any real law. But I still wonder, is there a real legal basis for this?

    Is there a law that says that if an employee works over 20 hours in one week, they must be awarded part-time status and benefits? I searched NJ statutes, but I must be using the wrong keywords. We aren't talking working consistently over 20 hours, just one time here and one time there. Would the company be "in trouble" with Wage & Hour?

    I guess the common sense part of me is thinking it's silly to pay a full-timer OT to come in and cover a shift, when there are per diems wanting to work, and they could be paid less.

  • #2
    You need someone new in HR. Well, your HR person probably is new and not very bright. I am not available for the job. Now, if you were in Hawaii or maybe the Rockies... but not New Jersey.

    If there is a problem, it is with how your benefit plans are written. Fix them. That is easy to do.

    Disciplining an employee for working extra hours that allows the company to meet customer expectations is stupid beyond belief.
    Senior Professional in Human Resources and Certified Staffing Professional with over 30 years experience. Any advice provided is based upon experience and education, but does not constitute legal advice.

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    • #3
      Is there a law that says that if an employee works over 20 hours in one week, they must be awarded part-time status and benefits? I searched NJ statutes, but I must be using the wrong keywords. We aren't talking working consistently over 20 hours, just one time here and one time there. Would the company be "in trouble" with Wage & Hour?


      No, there isn't. The reason you're not finding anything isn't that you're using the wrong keywords; it's because there's nothing to find. NJ has no law that dictates what is considered full and part time for benefits purposes. Neither do most other states. Only a very few do, and those that do, all but one have it set considerably higher than 20 hours.

      If an employee consistantly worked over 20 hours, ethically and morally you should reclassify them. There is no need to do so if it's only once in a while.
      The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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      • #4
        Also, I would have to seriously question the ethics of calling in "as needed" employees and then disciplining them for working the hours they were called in for. What would happen if the per diem employee said "no, I'm already at my 19 hours?"

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        • #5
          Hey, I hear ya.

          The per diems are supposed to say they've already hit their limit, then the supervisor has to call someone else. Odds are, they end up getting a full time person to take the shift, so we pay time & a half.

          The policy decision is really up to the operations management. I'm not in their chain of command; all I can do is advise. I just needed to know if there was any legal justification either way.

          We have a bunch of per diem people who stay on the rolls forever and never work (they say things like "call me to come in any time, just not on weekends, or evenings, or overnights..."). Then we have a few who really want the hours, and we impose a limit on them.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by TSCompliance View Post
            Hey, I hear ya.

            The per diems are supposed to say they've already hit their limit, then the supervisor has to call someone else.
            Gee, I don't know. Make the supervisor responsible for making sure she/he doesn't CALL someone who has already hit their limit?
            I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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            • #7
              I had thought of that at first too. Why not hold the supervisors accountable? But it turns out the per diems are available to cover many programs all over a given county, so no site supervisor has the ability to know who has worked where at all the other sites that week. Up to 20 sites share the list of the people in the per diem pool.

              Oh well, if I ever rule the world, that'll be on my list of things to change...

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