This depends on the type of benefit involved. For this discussion we will classify benefits as Employee Retirement Income Security Act covered retirement plans required to be qualified by the Internal Revenue Service for tax purposes, (i.e., 401(k) plans, money purchase plans, defined benefit plans), group health insurance plans and all other employee benefits (vacation, sick time, holiday pay and dental and vision coverage).

With retirement plans, you are required to cover all employees 18 years of age or older who accumulate at least 1,000 hours of service (defined as hours for which the employee is compensated, including paid vacation) during the plan year.1

With group health coverage, insurers are required to permit coverage of all employees within a covered group who work at least 30 hours per week (Section 632.745(5) (a), Wisconsin Statutes).

Similarly, any employer who offers group health coverage to its full-time employees must at least offer all employees who work 30 or more hours per week an opportunity to be covered.

However, while employers must offer that same coverage, there is no requirement that employees who are not full-time be offered the coverage on the same terms as full-time employees.

For example, if, as employer, you paid $800 per month of the premium2 for your regular full-time employees, you could make the coverage available to 30-hour per week employees who wish to take it and you/the employer could offer to pay 75 percent, or $600, on the basis they work 75 percent of fulltime, pay nothing or pay something in between.

Regardless, you need to give all 30 or more hours per week employees an opportunity to be in the plan and pay the selected cost level on their own.3

Lastly, you have very broad discretion on what you make available to part-time employees in terms of other employee benefits. You need not make any other types of benefits, including paid holidays, vacation, dental or vision care available.

Alternatively, you can make them available in different amounts or on different terms than you make them available to full-time employees (subject to the preceding footnote on making coverage available for up to 18 months for terminated employees).

1 While most plan years are on a calendar basis, they may be on any regularly applied 12-month period. Your plan year is whatever 12-month period your plan uses for reporting purposes.

2 For purposes of the example, it does not matter whether $800 is the full cost per employee or whether it is simply the amount you pay (leaving co-pay for employees). It is used only as an example.

3 With respect to health, dental and vision plans, both state and federal law contain provisions requiring that covered employees (and their spouses and dependents) whose coverage terminates as a result of a termination of employment be allowed to continue coverage (at their own cost) for a period of up to 18 months.

Federally, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 applies to employers with 20 or more employees and requires that you permit the opportunity to continue postemployment coverage for up to 18 months.

Section 632.897 of the Wisconsin Statutes applies to employers who have less than 20 employees and provide group policy coverage.

If your coverage is provided through WDAIP, they will provide a form you can use to provide the applicable continuation option for terminated employees.

Wisconsin law does not apply to employers who self-fund their coverage.