Part-time employment, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics defines as working one to 34 hours per week, is the new reality for many Americans. The number of involuntary part-time workers, or those who are working part time for economic reasons, rose to 9.3 million in September 2011, up from 8.8 million in August, according to the bureau.
Whether or not working part time is by choice, it does have its advantages. Part-time work allows for flexibility, can help determine whether a certain profession is the right fit and may lead to full-time work at the same company. What's more, many companies offer stellar benefits to part-time employees.
While some companies provide the standard health benefits -- medical, dental, vision -- others provide some less-traditional perks such as pet insurance, tuition reimbursement and health and wellness programs. Here are eight companies offering benefits to their part-time employees:
1. AAAPart-time employees are eligible for medical and dental insurance, health-care flexible spending accounts and retirement savings accounts. Part-timers can also invest a portion of their pretax paycheck to a 401(k) plan.
Part-time jobs include associate I - AAA sales, member relations specialist and retail agent.
-- Find AAA jobs
2. Container StoreAlong with medical, dental and vision plans, part-time workers can receive pet insurance, paid vacation and a 40 percent merchandise discount. Coverage options are also available for domestic partners and common-law spouses.
Part-time jobs include sales and visual merchandising and customer relations.
-- Find Container Store jobs
3. Lowe'sStarting on their day of hire, regular part-time employees are eligible for limited-benefit health plans, term life insurance, vision and dental care and short-term disability. After working at the company for 180 days, employees are entitled to 40 hours of vacation.
Part-time opportunities include cashier and telephone operator.
-- Find Lowe's jobs
4. Macy'sLove fashion and good at sales? Macy's might be the place for you. Both salaried and hourly employees are offered comprehensive benefits packages. Benefits for eligible part-timers include medical, dental and disability income protection. Employees can also participate in healthy living events, which include blood pressure checks and cholesterol screenings.
Part-time jobs include retail commission sales associate, flex team loss prevention/security associate and visual merchandising associate.
-- Find Macy's jobs
5. StaplesWorkers at this office products company need to work just 20 hours per week to gain access to most benefits. Medical, dental, life, vision and disability insurance are offered to workers and their families, including same-sex spouses and domestic partners. Perks at Staples abound, with team members receiving discounts on theater tickets, wireless products and services and online retailers.
Part-time positions include material handler and driver helper.
-- Find Staples jobs
6. UPSAlong with a variety of health benefits, part-timers can enjoy tuition assistance via the company's UPS Tuition Assistance Program and company stock through the Discounted Employee Stock Purchase Program.
Part-time opportunities include driver helpers, warehouse workers and dockworkers.
-- Find UPS jobs
7. WalgreensPart-time employees have access to employee discounts, flexible spending accounts and the company's employee stock purchase program. Walgreens also offers opportunities for employees to apply for jobs at the district and corporate levels.
Medical assistant, nurse and pharmacy technician are examples of part-time opportunities.
-- Find Walgreens jobs
8. Whole Foods MarketWhole Foods Market is known for being a great place to work; in fact, Fortune magazine has recognized it as one of the "100 Best Companies to Work For" in America for more than a decade. Employees are eligible for benefits after they work 400 service hours, including medical, dental, vision and health-care reimbursement accounts. Perks include 20 percent off all purchases made at any Whole Foods Market as soon as they start; spouses can get in on the discount, too.
Sample part-time job titles include produce clerk, cook and meat cutter.
-- Find Whole Foods jobs