When an employee is working full-time, they know that they have to work at least 5 days a week, for a definite number of hours. But if they want more flexibility, they can always opt for part-time hours. With part-time work, quite a few things change for employees and companies alike.

The max hours for part-time are substantially less, that goes without saying. 

But, exactly how many hours is part-time?

There isn’t a definitive answer to this question because how many hours is part-time varies from company to company. While it makes things a little tricky for companies and employees, it can be useful too. Let’s dive deeper and discuss the different aspects of part-time job hours.

How Many Hours Is Full-Time?

Earlier, 40 hours a week was the standard number of hours a full-time employee had to work. But now things are different, as there are no Fair Labor Standard Acts (FLSA) rules that may obligate employees to work that many hours. 

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) describes a full-time employee as one who works 30 hours or more per week. 

This leaves the determination of full-time hours in the hands of the company. The only caveat is that it should at least 30 hours per week to be eligible for the ACA. 

On average, most full-time employees work eight hours per day, five days a week. But the total hours worked can be different, depending upon the contract the employee has with the company. It allows companies to set hours for their employees as per their preference, and also give more freedom to employees. 

But if employees want even more flexibility, they can opt for part-time hours.

How Many Hours Is Part-Time?

How many hours is part-time is decided upon by the company because there are no legal obligations for employees to work a certain number of hours. The U.S. Department of Labor says that the FLSA does not define full-time employees and part-time ones.

If a company considers an employee working 40 hours per week as full-time, anything lower is a part-time employee. But that doesn’t mean that they can make a part-time employee work for 39 hours.

Generally, the average part-time hours can be anywhere from one hour to 34 hours. It works well for people who are just entering the workforce and can be a great way to gain experience. Some people also work their way to full-time jobs from part-time ones.

Today, more people are opting for part-time hours because it allows them more control over their schedule. It can also prove to be beneficial for companies because of the lower cost.

The Grey Area Between Full-Time and Part-Time Employees

The U.S. Government has offered mandatory benefits of health insurance for full-time employees. Under this, companies with 50 or more employees have to provide insurance to employees who work an average of 30 hours per week. 

The government did this to protect employees under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Companies now pay a lot of attention to the cut-off for full-time employees, because not providing insurance for accidental full-time employees can result in legal repercussions. 

Practically, though, the case is a bit different. Some companies do allow their employees to have a flexible schedule and give them fair pay and benefits if they are eligible. 

But some companies may exploit the situation to their advantage and change part-time hours frequently, which makes it hard for employees to track what is part-time hours for them. These companies don’t allow their part-time employees to work more than 29 hours per week. This saves the company the additional cost of providing any tangible benefits to them.

Hiring part-time workers can have a number of advantages and disadvantages for companies.

Advantages Of Part-Time Hours

Agile Workforce Planning

How many hours is part-time is determined by the companies, and this offers them flexibility because they can respond immediately to changes in workload.

Increased Diversity, Productivity And Cost-Efficiency 

  • Part-time employees can help companies cut down on costs. It is because part-time employees are less expensive as compared to full-time ones. 
  • Hiring part-time employees can also make a company diverse. It enhances a company’s workforce, and also shows their clients and customers that they value diversity. 
  • When companies hire part-time employees, they get to know their skills. It can help them choose the best candidate among them when a spot for a full-time employee goes vacant. 
  • Since some part-time employees are new to the business, they have an eagerness to learn. It can benefit the company as may improve work quality. 

Easy Way To Enter and Renter The Workforce 

  • Employees get a chance to gain experience before they start working at a full-time job. It can also prove to be a good start for people who are still studying and don’t have enough experience to work full-time. 
  • Primary caregivers and people who took larger sabbaticals can ease themselves into the workforce by opting for part-time hours, to begin with.

Disadvantages Of Part-Time Hours

Decreased Loyalty And Knowledge 

  • Since some employees work part-time hours per week at many companies, they aren’t as invested in the future of any company. It also means that the employee may not be as loyal to a company because they look at part-time jobs as easily replaceable.
  • Some part-time hours employees don’t have much experience and knowledge. It means that the training period for these employees is much longer.

Increased Attrition Rate

  • Part-time employees may leave when they get an opportunity for a full-time job at another company. It means that the managers have to start the training and recruitment process from the very beginning. 

Infrequent Workplace Interaction 

  • Part-time employees are not in the office as much as full-time employees. What is part-time hours for them? If it is low, it will lead to lesser interaction between the employees. The chances are that employee relationships may not be as strong as those between full-time employees.
  • How many hours is part-time differs from full-time hours, and it can cause friction between employees of both types. Full-time employees may think that they are working more, and seeing their part-time counterparts clock out early may lead to some resentment. 

How are Part-Time Workers Paid?

Full-time employees get a salary at the end of a month or any other frequency that the company makes payroll. But for part-time employees, the case is a bit different. Companies usually pay them on an hourly basis. The frequency at which they get their salary can be weekly, biweekly, or monthly. Some employees who work part-time hours may also negotiate their payment to whatever frequency they prefer 

At the end of the pay period/project, the employer multiplies the hourly rate and how many hours is part-time for each worker to zero in on the total cost

What Are Part-Time Hours Taxes?

The taxes paid do not depend upon how many hours is part-time. They are the same for both full-time and part-time employees. The company still needs to withhold the income taxes and Federal Contributions Insurance Act (FICA) taxes. 

The company also has to pay unemployment taxes for both employee types. 

Do Part-Time Employees Get Benefits?

Benefits packages differ with how many hours is part-time and even for full-time employees. Thus, it becomes necessary to talk about it with employees before starting work.

Part-time employees generally do not receive the same quantum of benefits as full-time ones. Not all companies give health insurance to part-time employees. But an employee may not actually need it if they are being covered through the plan of a spouse or parent. 

Under the ACA, companies with more than 50 employees have to offer health insurance. They have to provide it to a minimum of 95% of their employees if they work an average of 30 hours per week. ACA also requires companies to measure full-time equivalent, which determines the number of full-time employees in a company. 

How many hours a week is part-time can also determine if an employee is eligible for overtime pay. If an employee works more than 40 hours per week, they get overtime pay. Even though most part-time employees are non-exempt, it also depends on companies.

Many companies extend their benefits package for part-time employees as well. For example, many companies offer paternity leave benefits to employees, regardless of how many hours is part-time. Some employees also offer paid time off(PTO), like sick leave, vacation days, and remote work. 

How Many Hours Is Part-Time For Different Types Of Employees?

How many hours is part-time can differ for different types of part-time employees. Here are a few common types of part-time schedules. 


A permanent part-time employee is one whose time is not limited in a company. They don’t have a contract that mandates the amount of time they spend at a company, but they have regular schedules and responsibilities. The company has to pay them hourly and depending upon how many hours is part-time for these employees, overtime rules may also apply.


Freelance part-time employees get more freedom as compared to traditional part-time employees. They usually work on a contract, and they work for shorter durations with the company. These self-employed contractors work on different projects and are responsible for their own taxes and health insurance. Even though they enjoy more freedom, they are not eligible for most benefits. 


A company employs temporary employees or temps for short periods. They are helpful when a company is hit with seasonal demand. They can also work full-time but are usually not given any benefits. Temporary employees are the first to be laid off in a financial crisis and have no job security.

Employees With Flexible Schedule

Companies allow different schedules that work well for people looking for more freedom in a job. How many hours is part-time is something that differs a lot in these schedules.

Alternate Schedule And Split Schedule

There’s an alternate schedule system in which the employees have a different schedule type than they are currently following. There is also a split schedule system in which the employee has several hours off between two shifts. 

On-Call Schedule

Part-time employees can also opt for an on-call schedule system in which the company has the freedom to call for employees as and when they want. Often, the on-call schedule is split between multiple employees so that one person is not always on-call. Some on-call jobs are that of firefighters, emergency services, doctors, and social workers. Again, how many hours is part-time differs for each on-call employee.

Why Is It Important To Clarify How Many Hours Is Part-Time?

The company and the employee need to know how many hours is part-time before they reach an agreement. 

Companies should stick to maintaining part-time hours fairly for part-time workers and not misuse their employees. As discussed earlier, under ACA, there is a minimum number of hours an employee has to work to get benefits. But there is no higher limit in many places, resulting in the exploitation of employees.

In Canada, companies have an upper limit on the number of hours an employee can work. Under this law, regular full-time employees work 40 hours per week. Anything above that limit is overtime, and non-exempt employees get paid 1.5 times the hourly wage rate. 

Clarity for Part-Timers

How many hours is part-time can be different for all employees, but that shouldn’t be a loophole for companies to exploit their employees. HR should have a thorough discussion with each employee and clarify how many hours is part-time for them. Similarly, employees should be clear about the kind of flexibility they want in their job. The inclusions or exclusions of the benefits package should be something they discuss beforehand. 

If you have any questions regarding part-time work hours do reach out to us at @HarmonizeHQ and we’d love to help.