A Long-Term, Part-Time Employee or a Former Long-Term, Part-Time Employee, That Is the Question

By , , and on January 30, 2024

Under the SECURE Act and SECURE 2.0 Act, employers must provide long-term, part-time employees the opportunity to make elective deferrals under their 401(k) plans and, beginning in 2025, their 403(b) plans. Under the new rules, long-term, part-time employees include those employees who complete at least 500 hours of service in three consecutive years (reduced to two years in 2025), are at least 21 years old and enter the plan solely because they satisfy this requirement.

When this occurs, certain special rules apply to such employees, including rules that impact when employees become vested and whether such employees must be included in annual nondiscrimination testing or must receive top-heavy vesting and benefits. As a result, many employers have asked whether employees who enter the plan as long-term, part-time employees are always treated like long-term, part-time employees or if that can change throughout the course of their careers. The answer is, well, complicated, and the impact differs depending on whether the employer is applying the special vesting or nondiscrimination and top-heavy rules to such employees.

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Sarah L. Engle
Sarah Engle focuses her practice on employee benefits matters. She counsels clients regarding a variety of issues, including the design, drafting and operation of tax-qualified pension and profit sharing plans, health and welfare arrangements, and deferred compensation plans. Sarah has experience advising clients on employee benefits design, implementation and transition matters arising in connection with corporate mergers and acquisitions. Read Sarah Engle's full bio.

Brian Tiemann
Brian J. Tiemann counsels public and private companies on a broad range of employee benefit matters, including matters related to pension plans, 401(k) plans and executive and incentive compensation. He advises plan fiduciaries with respect to their fiduciary duties, investment policies and alternative investments. He also advises multinational clients on global employee benefits matters, particularly with respect to global incentive compensation plans. Brian has extensive experience negotiating investment management agreements and service provider agreements. Read Brian Tiemann's full bio.

Haley Dow
Haley M. Dow focuses her practice on employee benefits and executive compensation matters. Read Haley M. Dow's full bio.

Scott Kenkel
Scott Kenkel focuses his practice on employee benefits and executive compensation matters. He has experience assisting clients with regulatory compliance matters related to tax-qualified retirement plans and executive compensation arrangements. He also regularly works with clients on benefits and compensation issues in connection with corporate transactions. Read Scott Kenkel's full bio.




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