The federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which governs overtime wages, the minimum wage, child labor and record-keeping requirements, does not define full-time or part-time employment. Rather, part-time employment is generally defined by the business employing the part-time worker and is a matter of agreement between the parties. Because the act does not differentiate between part-time and full-time employees, such a designation does not change the application of the act. However, other laws and regulations do not protect part-time employees to the same extent as full-time employees. For example, the federal Equal Pay Act does not protect part-time employees from the requirement that men and women performing the same job should be paid equally.
Part-time employees can include leased, contract, freelance and temporary employees. Leased and contract employees are hired by a company to work at a particular job site for a period of time or project duration. Once that job is finished, they are assigned to a different job. Generally, most states have regulations defining part-time employees as those employees that work less than 40 hours per week. Most part-time workers are paid by the hour and are not entitled to company benefits, such as vacation pay, health insurance, sick leave or retirement.
Part-time workers must still comply with the same rules, policies and company procedures as full-time employees. Part-time workers can also be terminated for poor performance or misconduct just like full-time employees. Part-time workers also have payroll deductions and taxes reflected in their paychecks. Legal duties owed by a business to its work force, such as complying with safety and health regulations, also apply to both part-time and full-time employees.
For employers, part-time employees can provide an affordable and useful solution to fluctuations in the work load, as well as providing staff for special projects designed to last a certain amount of time. Part-time employees allow employers to monitor and exert control over employees' work while still saving money by avoiding paying salary and costly benefits full-time employees would generally require.
States have different regulations regarding part-time employees. For example, in some states, part-time employees, like full-time employees, must be paid for overtime, lunch breaks or coffee breaks. To ensure a business is in compliance with all applicable regulations governing part-time employees, contact your state Department of Labor, or an experienced employment law attorney.
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