Q & A


BEA Illustrations-You Ask Color

Q: I have a part-time employee asking for benefits, specifically PTO. My gut reaction is to deny the request. She has 4 of 7 days off in the week. My question is what do other employers do for part-time employees? Do the majority give part-time employees PTO? I am new to this and am not sure how to respond to her.

A: Generally-speaking, we find most employers do not offer part-time employees with paid time off benefits for the exact reason you state – they’re already off so much during the week as it is.

That being said, the pressure to provide them something has resulted in some employers making changes in recent months/years. This is due, of course, to the labor market and the near constant shortage of quality employees. In order to compete, separate themselves from others, and so on, many employers are deciding to give their part-time employees more benefits, usually in the form of paid time off. So, this has become an evolving issue.

I’m not sure how many part-time employees you have, but it’s worth noting that if you change something for her and not others that could result in problems. Employees cannot be prohibited from sharing their wages and benefits with other employees; therefore, it’s possible others will find out what she got from you. At a minimum, this could cause internal conflict, morale issues, turnover, and, at worst, it could create an area for a discrimination claim. This means the issue doesn’t just revolve around her, but all of your part-time employees if you decide to make a change.

Whether or not to give her what she wants will likely depend on how much you value her, your financial ability to make a change for all part-time employees, the labor market in your area, and so on. Saying no could mean that she leaves to go to work with someone else, but I would not recommend allowing fear to cloud the decision-making process. If you do, then she (and others) might recognize an area in which threats (i.e., “give me what I want, or I walk”) will get them what they want. Much like children, this could result in a near constant demand from people and cause a lot of headaches for you.

Your gut was “no,” and that may be the best answer for your business right now. Many, if not most, still do not provide paid time off to their part-time employees, so I don’t think you’ll be too far out of the norm if you deny it.