Etiquette at Work

Can part-time employees become eligible for benefits? Elaine Varelas explores

Health insurance is one of the biggest benefits for which many employees rely on their employers. So, what happens when you need to qualify for it but don't quite hit the bar? Elaine Varelas explores some options when it comes to making that change.

Ask the Job Doc.

Q: I’m a part-time employee, but I really need health benefits. How can I approach my part-time employer and ask about becoming a full-time employee?  

A: Health care benefits are a considerable concern for every working person and their employers. Healthcare insurance is a significant part of the benefits package provided by employers, and a significant reason people stay or leave specific companies. As you have seen, most part-time employees don’t share the benefits full-time employees have access to. The cost to employees is determined by the percent employers pay, leaving the balance to employees. Many people choose to work because they need health benefits and can’t afford them otherwise. 


Companies hire employees for full or part-time jobs based on the work to be done, not because someone needs benefits. Look around the organization – how is your business doing? In this economy, many companies are looking for full-time employees. Is your company posting new jobs for positions that coincide with your skill sets? This would be the best way to see if you can find a full-time opportunity. An employer is not going to hire you full time because you need benefits – they will bring you on to work full time because you have proficiencies that they need for a certain number of hours during that week.  

Having a conversation with your manager about other opportunities that the company is recruiting for is a great place to start. And talking with your manager about working more hours would be a meaningful conversation to have. You can be candid and say, “I need to put myself in a position to be eligible for benefits.” Additionally, it is important to recognize how you’re currently perceived at work – are you perceived as a high contributor, or are you perceived as a problematic employee? Both are going to impact your manager’s willingness to help you find a full-time role within the organization or increase your hours until you become eligible for benefits.  


Until you find a full-time job with the company, or at a new employer, research healthcare options. You may have a state or federal program you can access. For example, the Massachusetts Health Connector is a state-based health insurance marketplace the provides affordable health and dental options for Massachusetts individuals, families, and small businesses. Additionally, it is important to recognize that the cost of health care will be influenced by the choices you make. Recently, a major insurer announced an increase of $200 per month should individuals under their plan choose not to get vaccinated against COVID. 

If you find an external opportunity and would prefer to stay with your company, you can try to negotiate. You could speak with your manager and say: “I have an offer with full benefits. However, I would much rather work for you. I wanted to let you know I have this offer. If you have any flexibility, it would be great to work this out so that I could stay here full-time.” 

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