The Bureau of Labor Statistics describes part-time employees as individuals who work between one and 34 hours per week. Some employees are considered “involuntary part-time” for economic reasons. These are employees who want to work full-time jobs, but their hours were either cut by their employers, or they have been unable to find full-time employment.
According to 2011 BLS data, the nearly 2.5 million workers in jobs described as part-time (based on the number of hours worked) are workers who wanted full-time jobs, but could not find them. Nearly 2 million more workers whose jobs were usually full-time positions were working reduced hours because of slack business conditions.
An inability to find full-time employment can mean economic hardship for the underemployed and, for those employees who formerly worked full-time hours, can lead to a loss of benefits like health insurance. However, if a worker loses employer-provided health insurance coverage as a result of a loss of full-time employee status due to a reduction of work hours, the employee is eligible to apply for COBRA continuation.
Depending on their state of residence, the employee may also be entitled to partial unemployment benefits as a result of a reduction of work hours. When a worker applies for unemployment, the state will check with his employer to learn how much money he typically would have received, and the reason for his loss of work hours. Thereafter, the employee will likely have to report his income to the unemployment office on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, and an amount based on his earned income may be deducted from his unemployment payment for the week, since he isn’t fully unemployed.
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