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Thread: Benefits for part-time v full-time employees California

  1. #1

    Question Benefits for part-time v full-time employees California

    I work for a non-profit organization with an Executive Director/Board of Directors structure but no HR position. (Our ED essentially serves as our HR person.) Our personnel policy states that for an employee to be considered full-time, and thus eligible for medical benefits, holiday pay, etc., the employee must work 30+ hours per week.

    One of our employees just returned from 4 1/2 months of maternity leave.
    Our ED stated that while this employee and her newborn are adjusting to their new schedules, the employee will work part time just as she did when she returned from having her second child. The difference, however, is that with her second child, the employee came back to work part time at 30 hours/week and only for two months, which kept her eligible for all of her full-time benefits.
    With this third child, this employee is now working 3 [email protected] 7 hours/day (for a total of 21 hours/week) for the next six to eight months and is still allowed to keep all of her full-time benefits.

    When other staff asked our ED how this employee was still eligible, the reply was that if the employee is "scheduled" to work 30+ hours per week, he/she can still retain their full-time benefits even if they are actually working under 30 hours.
    Is this legal?
    I have never heard of someone receiving full-time benefits just because they are "scheduled" as full-time but actually work only part-time.
    Oh and this is an hourly employee if that helps with the response.

    This has caused some morale issues among our part-time staff who are not receiving benefits yet are now working more hours than the employee who has just returned from maternity leave.

    As the only other full-time employee in the office (besides our ED), the part-time employee posed this question to me.
    Thanks in advance for any guidance you can provide.
    Heatherly

  2. #2
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    What does your benefits plan document say? NOT your employee handbook - the employee handbook means diddly in this situation. I'm talking about the formal plan document that governs your policy.

    If you don't know, you need a copy of the Summary Plan Description which your employer is required by law to provide you on request. An electronic copy is fine if that's what they offer you.

    When you have it, bring it back and we'll take it from there.

    (I can see the viral post on social media now; Mother of three with newborn denied health benefits on the demand of her co-workers...)
    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.

  3. #3

    Default Benefits for part-time v full-time employees California

    LOL....so true! And one reason that I wish I had not been asked to get involved.
    (Although in this instance, the employee in question has health insurance coverage through her husband's employer as well as through our office so she wouldn't technically be without health benefits, but still....the perception....)
    I do not have a copy of the Summary Plan Description but I will advise my co-worker to request one and provide the language for consideration.
    Thanks so much.

    Quote Originally Posted by cbg View Post
    What does your benefits plan document say? NOT your employee handbook - the employee handbook means diddly in this situation. I'm talking about the formal plan document that governs your policy.

    If you don't know, you need a copy of the Summary Plan Description which your employer is required by law to provide you on request. An electronic copy is fine if that's what they offer you.

    When you have it, bring it back and we'll take it from there.

    (I can see the viral post on social media now; Mother of three with newborn denied health benefits on the demand of her co-workers...)

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaliNonProfitGirl View Post
    LOL....so true! And one reason that I wish I had not been asked to get involved.
    (Although in this instance, the employee in question has health insurance coverage through her husband's employer as well as through our office so she wouldn't technically be without health benefits, but still....the perception....)
    I do not have a copy of the Summary Plan Description but I will advise my co-worker to request one and provide the language for consideration.
    Thanks so much.
    What benefits is she receiving if not health insurance?

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    Playing games with hours and eligibility is extremely ill advised. How the SPD is worded matters, but even if permitted, you have the morale issue. I am wondering how the rest of the staff knows she is keeping her FT benefits while working 21 hours?
    I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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    Now hold on a minute. I assumed we were talking about health insurance. If we're not, then HRinMA's question is HUGELY important. Because if we are not talking about pre-tax benefits, there is a great deal of freedom on the part of the employer as to who gets what.
    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.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by cbg View Post
    Now hold on a minute. I assumed we were talking about health insurance. If we're not, then HRinMA's question is HUGELY important. Because if we are not talking about pre-tax benefits, there is a great deal of freedom on the part of the employer as to who gets what.
    The full-time benefits that the employee in question continues to receive while she is working part time (which the other part-time employees in our office are not receiving) include the following:

    - Health Insurance
    - Holiday Pay
    - PTO accrual at 18 days/year (vs. 6 days/year for part-timers)

    The other employees know that this employee is still receiving the benefits because they are the ones who deal with payroll and benefit payments/tracking, etc. for our office. (We are a small non-profit org so we all wear many hats.)
    I am still waiting to receive a copy of the SPD....

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    Of these, the only one that might possibly create a legal issue is health insurance. The others are entirely at the opt of the employer. There will be no legal issues involved with either PTO or holiday pay.

    Let us know when you have the SPD.
    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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    Just because your entity isn't large enough to be covered by CFRA doesn't mean it can't choose to follow its guidelines.

    You ask if it is illegal. The answer to that would be, no, as there is no law against it.
    Last edited by Payroll Guy; 03-08-2017 at 12:11 PM.

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