Are you one of the many boomers who have day dreamed about getting a part-time job? Maybe you’re looking for income while you train for a new career or start a business, or a way to cut back on the time and pressure of your current job, or a way to earn an income cushion while you are retired.
However, for most people the idea remains a daydream because you (or your spouse) are too young to receive Medicare, and you can’t do without the health insurance benefits you receive through your employer.
You may assume that the only way you can afford health coverage is through full-time employment. Or you fear that you will be denied individual insurance because of your pre-existing condition and you need the security of employer-sponsored group insurance.
Full-Time Employment May Not Be Your Only Option
Several of my clients have successfully negotiated with their current employers, cutting their hours and keeping their benefits.
• One man (who worked for the same firm for twenty-five years) was able to custom tailor his new position, keeping only the responsibilities he most enjoyed.
•A year into retirement, another client found she was bored and took an interesting job with benefits from her prior employer. In addition to benefits, this job allowed her to work remotely, giving her more flexibility to travel and baby-sit for her grandchildren.
One of the silver linings in the current challenging outlook for full-time employment is that more employers are increasing the number of part-time workers they are hiring. In many cases health benefits are part of very attractive, full benefit packages.
Find Opportunities with Large Employers
The following are just a few of the national employers who hire part-time workers as a significant part of their staff, and offer health benefits:
• Banks including Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, Capitol One, and Wells Fargo.
•Grocery chains including Publix, Whole Foods Market, Wegman’s, Safeway, Kroger, and Trader Joe’s.
•Retail giants such as Target, IKEA, JCPenney, REI, Macy’s, Staples, Container Store, Bassett Furniture, Lands End, CostCo, Home Depot, and Lowe's.
•Call center work-from-home jobs for firms such as Alpine Access, American Airlines, Convergys Home Agent Program, HSN.com, Jet-Blue, Neiman Marcus, and Starwood Hotels.
And many other national firms including UPS, Fed-Ex Ground, AAA, Starbucks, Walgreens, Kaplans, Aerotek, and U-Haul.
This is only a sample of the employers with opportunities available. Check out Job-Hunt's Directory of Fortune 500 Employers for addional possibilities. According to the 2011 Employer Health Benefits Survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation, 42% of large employers offer health benefits to part-time employees.
To find part-time positions listed in your community you can search using the terms “Part Time Benefits” on a job aggregator, a site that collects listings from other job boards like Indeed.com or SimplyHired.com. Another source is craigslist.org (first read Using Craigslist to Find a Job). Also check LinkUp.com, a site that trawls employer websites for listings, many of which are not advertised elsewhere.
You will see many jobs advertised, but realize that part-time jobs are the same as full-time positions. The majority of jobs are never listed. Most jobs are filled through employee referral and you will find out about them by networking.
Check Out Smaller Employers, Too
If you work for a smaller employer you are a lot less likely to be offered benefits for part-time work. According to the same 2011 Employer Health Benefits Survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation, only 15% of firms with less than 200 workers offer health insurance to part-timers.
If your small employer doesn’t offer health benefits you can still propose that your employer form a group for insurance purposes and offer the option to purchase medical and dental benefits through the group. This will allow you to save on the high cost of individual insurance, protect you from being excluded from insurance because of pre-existing conditions, and likely be more thorough coverage than you would receive on your own.
I once worked for a very small firm with only the owner of the business and three part-time workers. The owner was delighted when I suggested she form a group as she saved money on her own policy and thought offering benefits would make us more loyal. She was right and the group insurance was a win for all of us.
The Future Is Unclear
No one can predict how health reform will affect employer health benefits. A 2011 survey by a major human resources consulting firm found less than 10% of employers plan to drop their health plans after 2014. Even before health reform, the number of employers offering health insurance has been slowly shrinking yearly. Barnes & Noble is phasing out healthcare insurance for part-timers, and some of the firms listed above state that benefits vary by location.
Be careful, do your due diligence and confirm that health insurance is available before accepting a job. The result? A wonderful gift of more time for exploration will be yours as you transition into the next stage of your life.