<i>Dear Workforce</i> How Should We Treat The Issue Of Raises For Part-Time Employees

August 1, 2002

A Dear PT/FT:

I hesitate to say this, but the answer is: it depends. And here are the relevant factors on which it depends.

First, take a look at the important elements of your staffing and retention initiatives in support of business operations. Do you need people to be able to move easily into part-time positions based on business process changes? Do you want to retain staff even during economic downturns? Or, does part-time employment present difficulties in terms of supporting the organization’s ongoing operations?

Second, from an employee-relations standpoint, are you looking to provide your workforce with more flexibility in terms of working hours? Do you encourage things like job sharing, extended leaves of absence, or sabbaticals? What types of morale problems will there be in treating part-timers in a different manner than full-time employees?

If your answers to these questions indicate a limited or minimal tolerance for part-time employment, then the question becomes how much you want to discourage the practice of part-time employment. This does not mean they should be treated in a drastically different fashion from a pay-practice standpoint. I would still provide them with periodic performance evaluations and opportunities for salary increases. There are, however, other ways to discourage the practice. One of the most obvious solutions is to prohibit part-time work.

Otherwise, if part-time employment is consistent with your company’s business strategy, then you should treat them in a fashion similar to full-time employees. Many companies provide the same frequency of reviews, and the same percentage increase opportunities. Since part-timers’ salaries are typically lower than full-time, the same percentage applied to a lower base yields a lower increase. This provides differentiation in terms of dollar amounts, yet minimizes the morale issues.

Finally, one caveat: do not differentiate between full- and part-timers through benefits costs. Charge part-timers the same overall dollar amount for participation in benefits plans. There is no better way to eliminate a part-time workforce than to charge them higher dollar contributions for benefit plans. Except, of course, if getting them all to quit is your objective.

SOURCE: Bob Fulton, Project Consultant, The Pathfinder’s Group, Chicago, Illinois, March 22, 2002.

LEARN MORE: Developing Your Part-Time Employee Practices

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.

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