The Case for Part-Time (and No, It’s Not Obamacare)

11/17/2014 by ellen grealish

February, 2015, FlexProfessionals, LLC.

There has been much speculation that employers will begin to cut back on their number of full-time workers to avoid paying health benefits due to the Affordable Healthcare Act. Employees would face a reduction in hours to 29 hours/week, which would significantly impact their take-home pay. Unfortunately, these cuts will most likely occur in lower-paying jobs where a 25% drop in income could be devastating to the worker. The decision to move to “part-time” would not be based on the employee’s needs or even what might ultimately be best for the business and its customers. Instead, the decision would be based on the desire to reduce costs by taking advantage of a “loop-hole”’ within the government healthcare system. This would clearly lead to disgruntled (and unproductive) workers and dissatisfied customers – a perfect storm that will impact a business’ bottom line.
Businesses, however, should not lose sight of the fact that there is a case where hiring part-time individuals is not only good for business but for the worker as well. This situation occurs when the employee desires a part-time or flexible work opportunity within a professional business environment. Here, the employee values flexibility and views it as part of his or her compensation. Health benefits are not usually needed in these cases, as the employee is already covered through the spouse. I know for a fact that there are thousands of professional, highly educated women (and men too!) across the country in this circumstance. They are eager to find meaningful, part-time work and are willing to exchange a certain level of pay and benefits in order to do so.

Historically, there has been an “opportunity gap” for professional, educated women who are ready to re-enter the workforce after raising a family yet desire to be home when their children return from school. There is also a lack of opportunity for many other professionals who prefer to scale back from their current, traditional 40-50 hour work week. These are all workers that not only desire a part-time role but have the maturity, education, and experience from which businesses would surely benefit. If businesses open themselves up to this kind of ‘flexible’ mind-set, they now have access to a whole new pool of talented individuals that they might not be able to afford otherwise. Small and medium-sized growing businesses, in particular, are well positioned to benefit from this model, as often they don’t have either the budget or the work to justify an experienced, full-time employee. What a great way to bring in high-value, dedicated resources without having to make a large investment.
Of course, many workers in this day and age don’t have the “luxury” of being able to exchange pay/benefits for part-time or flexible roles. Employers requiring workers to reduce hours/pay may reduce costs in the short-term, but business success is ultimately based on the productivity and dedication of the employees. How dedicated would you be if your employer cut your pay in order to avoid paying you health benefits (double whammy)? In stark contrast, workers who specifically seek and personally benefit from part-time employment are so thrilled to be given the opportunity that they give a level of commitment and productivity that far exceeds the job requirements.
Part-time jobs, when created and offered for the right reasons — to stimulate business growth versus taking advantage of a government loophole — can be a “win-win”. Companies will realize a competitive business advantage while still meeting the personal needs of its employees. Now that’s something all businesses, small or large, should strive for.

Ellen Grealish is one of the co-founders of FlexProfessionals, LLC, a niche staffing company that specializes in sourcing professionals for part-time, project-based and flexible work arrangements at a fraction of traditional employee costs. Contact: Ellen@flexpro.wpengine.com.

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