November 10, 2016

Hi Jennifer,

I do not remember if you had already clarified this topic in the past.  What is the guideline for employees to be qualified as "full-time" to receive the benefits such as vacation pay, health coverage, 401K match, etc.?  IRS may define 21 hours per week to be a full-time while New York State says something different.

Here is the difficult part.  If 21 hours qualifies a week of vacation pay, are we supposed to count the week for 21 hour as well (assume hourly pay)?  If an employee works 3 out of 6 days as "full-time", then the benefit week is really 3 days.  Correct me if I am thinking incorrectly.

Thanks, Dr. J


Good question, Dr. J.  New York's Department of Labor says 40 hours constitutes full time. Under State and Federal law no vacation is required to be given.  Sick or paid time off is only required in New York City at the moment, as far as the State of New York goes (and to my knowledge).  As far as benefits, 401K is not required, and certainly no match is required.  Health insurance is required by certain businesses, or they face penalty under the Affordable Care Act.  

Now, my answers will likely change once I start getting some answers to some questions - how do you, the employer, define full time?  Did you set at 35 hours instead of 40?  Are you offering a 401k and did you offer a match?  Do you have your plan documents available and do you define the participant set by employee classification - does everyone get the same benefits?  With regards to time off - do you offer paid time off?  If so, do you have a written policy?  Does your written policy apply the same to all employees?  Do you dictate the accrual time for Full Time v. Part Time?  All of the above are options you may wish to consider, and I recommend be adopted by policy, whichever way you decide to go.  We can work through these questions together and document.  

If the questions are coming from an employee perspective, it sounds like we need more information from the employer - to re-review our employment contract and/or employee handbook, if any.  If the questions are coming prior to being on-boarded at a new position, please do ask about Benefits, vacation, sick, prior to committing.  

You may want to review plan documents with a financial planner.  If you are looking for a referral email me.  

Hope this helps!