Bill sponsors hope that by giving part-time workers access to more hours and benefits, they will have less need for multiple jobs to make ends meet.
If you have employees who work fewer than 30-40 hours per week, you need to know about the Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights Act, which was introduced late last year to provide additional protections for these individuals. Among other things, it addresses work schedules that do not provide as many hours as these individuals need to support their families.
Introduced by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), the bill has three main components:
- Gives hours preferences to current employees. Before hiring new employees, large employers (defined as those with more than 500 workers) would need to give more hours to existing part-timers. This mandate is designed to give workers who need/want more hours the opportunity to take on additional work. It also is aimed at possibly enabling more workers to transition to full-time employment, instead of juggling multiple part-time jobs to make ends meet.
- Provides part-timers with access to pension plans. The legislation amends the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 to give part-time workers who have worked at least 500 hours for two consecutive years access to retirement plans if they are offered by their employers to full-time employees.
- Makes more part-time employees eligible for family and medical leave. The bill guarantees any employee who has worked for their employer for at least a year access to federal leave protections under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
The legislation sponsors cited study findings that unpredictable schedules, which often mean lack of access to enough working hours, are associated with financial and housing insecurity, high stress, poor health outcomes, and (for parents) less time spent with children. Specifically, one study found that 65% of respondents with part-time jobs say they’ve dealt with “at least one material hardship” in the past year.
“Many hard-working Americans are working several part-time jobs to make ends meet….[and] are working more hours between all their jobs than many full-time workers, but making less per hour and receiving few benefits,” said Rep. Schakowsky. Sen. Warren added that the legislation gives part-timers the “rights, stability, and other protections they deserve to build better financial futures for themselves and for their families.”
Workforce shortages and low unemployment numbers have led many employers to rely more heavily on current workers, including part-timers. One survey found that 63% of employers planned to give permanent workers more hours during this past holiday season. Some companies have sweetened the pot for part-time employees. For instance, Target has offered $13 per hour for seasonal workers and UPS upped hourly wages to $14.
Watch for updates on the progress of this legislation.