When creating company policy regarding job titles and descriptions, and when advertising for open positions, it is important to be clear on job classifications. Different categories of jobs, such as full-time, part-time, seasonal, and temporary positions, all hold meaning to companies and job seekers alike.
Clarifying job types and descriptions will help your company know what type of worker they want to fill a position and allow current and potential employees to know what to expect in terms of hours, schedule, length of employment, and benefits for each type of position.
Use of proper job classifications also ensures that you are nondiscriminatory in benefit policies. When a position is properly classified and those classifications have clearly stated benefits attached to them, there’s no room for favoring one position or employee over another when determining benefits. The best place for these definitions is in the company handbook. It is easily accessible to all employees and is the guidebook for how your company runs.
Full time versus part time
Some of the most recognized classifications are full-time and part-time employment. The term “regular” is often attached to these classifications. Being a regular full-time or regular part-time employee indicates that there is a set number of scheduled hours weekly. These workers are not working on an as-needed or ad-hoc basis.
Knowing if they have regular hours is important for employees in their day-to-day schedule and for their finances. They need to know what to expect in terms of both pay rate and how many hours they will be working.
Each company defines the parameters for a full-time and part-time employee, though there are some limitations to the what they can define. Often, regular full-time employees work 36 to 40 hours per week, and part-time employees work 25 to 35 hours per week. Some companies may consider 30 hours per week full time.
Consistency across positions for the company is key. Generally, full-time employees are eligible for more benefits than part-time employees. Both are regular employees, but full-time employees may have access to insurance, paid time off, and certain other types of leave.
Temporary employees, seasonal employees, and interns
Temporary, seasonal, and intern are three classifications that all share a distinct characteristic: they have a defined beginning and end date. There is no expectation that the employment will continue beyond that time, and they are generally ineligible for benefits.
Despite their similarities, these three classifications are important indicators of the type of employee a company is seeking and can help direct the recruiting efforts toward the proper channels.
Seasonal employees are brought in at the height of a company’s busy season. For an outdoor-focused business, such as lawn care or a zoo, this may be the summer season. Retail establishments and delivery services add workers during the holiday season to accommodate extra shoppers. Sometimes these employees go on to apply for regular full-time or part-time positions, if available, and sometimes they simply want to supplement their income for a short time. For a business, the seasonal employee represents the ability to cover their busiest times of year without the commitment of keeping a regular employee on through the slow season.
A temporary employee is sometimes needed to fill a gap for a defined length of time when a regular employee is out on family or medical leave (FMLA), a sabbatical, a long vacation, or otherwise cannot fulfill their duties. This time does not necessarily coincide with the busiest time of year for a business, but it is still a temporary need rather than a regular position.
An internship is geared toward students and new graduates and is intended to help students understand what it is like to work in a particular industry. The focus is on learning and growing. By designating a position as an internship, recruiters know to focus on students and that it is a learning opportunity. Like seasonal and temporary employment, internships can serve as a foot in the door for future employment.
PRN is a type of employment that not all businesses have considered but may make sense for some. PRN is short for the Latin term “pro re nata,” which means “as needed.” Using PRN employees gives a business a roster of personnel who meet all job requirements and have gone through all necessary background checks and training but only work when the business needs assistance.
For the business, this gives flexibility in employment. Rather than trying to keep a set number of people all the time, they can easily staff up or down as needed. If you have a business that needs extra workers sometimes but cannot sustain the employment over the long haul, adding PRN employees may be a good solution.
One important difference between a PRN employee and a regular employee is that PRN employees choose when they want to work. When the business needs a shift covered, it is communicated to all PRN employees. The first one to respond gets the shift. A PRN employee also can turn down a shift that they do not want.
Employees who may enjoy PRN positions are often those who want flexibility to pick up extra work as their schedule allows. PRN employment is a trade-off for workers, as it generally offers higher hourly pay but no benefits. For an employee who has insurance through a spouse or partner, higher hourly pay and a flexible schedule may be more valuable than benefits.
Take time to consider the job classifications at your company. Are you making the most of every type of employee? Is there a strategy that might work better for your business? No matter what the answer is to those questions, it is important to have clearly define your position types in the company handbook. Employees should always understand what their position and other positions entail and what to expect if they need to switch to a different type of position.
If you’re considering using different types of employee classifications to better manage ebbs and flows in your business and need help sorting out the specifics, get in touch with the WhyHR team.