Part-time employees in companies with 401(k) plans won a big victory when the SECURE Act was signed into law on December 20, 2019.
Before the SECURE Act, 401(k) plans could exclude employees if they did not work at least 1,000 hours of service in a 12-month period or were under age 21. These rules have prevented many long-term part-time employees from the chance to save in 401(k) plans.
The SECURE Act provides relief beginning with the first plan year after December 31, 2020 (for most plans, January 1, 2021). Any employee who has worked at least 500 hours in three consecutive years and is age 21 or older by the end of the three-year period must be allowed to start making elective deferrals. However, years beginning before January 1, 2021 do not have to be counted for purposes of meeting the three-consecutive-year rule.