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Eligibility for Benefits

Employers are required by law to provide certain types of employee benefits, such as family and medical leave, unemployment insurance, and workers' compensation. An employer also must pay its share of FICA (Social Security and Medicare) taxes.

On the other hand, there is no legal requirement that employers offer fringe benefits like vacation or holiday pay, sick leave, personal time off, bonuses, or severance pay. Additionally, under current federal law, there is no requirement that employers offer health coverage or retirement plans.

Except for those benefits required to be provided by law, employers may generally determine the eligibility rules for employee benefits offered and may, in certain instances, choose to offer different benefits to different employees (as long as the basis for those differences is not discriminatory). The benefits offered may not be determined based on an employee's age, race, sex, disability, or any other class protected under state or federal law.

Full-Time Employees

Employers who provide voluntary benefits typically provide them for all full-time employees, although benefits may vary somewhat among groups of full-time employees.  For example, salaried or managerial employees may enjoy somewhat different benefits than hourly employees, while union employees are entitled to the fringe benefits negotiated as part of the collective bargaining agreement (which may or may not be the same as the benefits of non-union employees).

A common reason for differentiating between part-time and full-time employees is to distinguish the group of employees who receive company benefits from those who are not eligible for such benefits, or to provide a way of distinguishing between two sets of benefits for two classes of employees.

Part-Time Employees

Provided that there is equal opportunity for employment within the company...

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