What does it mean to work part time hours?

Part-time employment is different than full-time work. Everything is different, from pay to the number of hours to taxes—don’t get blindsided by your state’s rules!

Kim Costa |
Categories: Job Search Tips

What does it mean to work part-time?

Are you in the market for a part-time job? You're in the right place, my friend. 

Before you begin your search, it’s important to know the differences between part-time and full-time work. 

Part-time employment is different than full-time work. Everything is different, from pay to the number of hours to taxes—don’t get blindsided by your state’s rules!

What is part-time work?

Definitions might change by state and company, but generally speaking, part-time positions work fewer than full-time hours. This is usually decided by your employer. 

At most companies, this would be less than 40 hours a week. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that part-time workers can work anywhere from 1 to 34 hours a week. 

At the end of the day, it’s up to your employer to say whether you’re part-time or full-time. The specific rules will differ from company to company, so make sure you read the job description carefully before applying. 

The benefits of working part-time

Full-time jobs are all the rage these days, but part-time jobs are pretty sweet, too. 

You can find work in nearly any industry as a part-time worker. It’s most common in retail, restaurants and hospitality. 

The best part about having a part-time job is the flexibility with your time. You aren’t chained to a desk for 40+ hours a week. Pursue hobbies, go to school or pick up a side hustle when you aren’t at your part-time job. 

However, keep in mind that there’s a tradeoff for the flexibility. Most companies hire part-time workers so they don’t have to pay employee benefits. Health insurance, retirement benefits, paid time off and other perks might be out of reach to part-time workers. 

What the government says about part-time work

The government has strict rules for hourly part-time workers. You’re eligible for mandatory breaks and minimum wage. Your employer also has to follow rules about overtime and overnight shifts. 

In most states, the government doesn’t require your employer to give paid vacation or sick days. This is true whether you’re part-time or full-time. Evaluate the job carefully before you accept; if sick leave is important to you, negotiate it with your company. 

However, your employer has to let you take time off if you’re sick or if there’s a family emergency during the workweek. They just won’t pay you for it. 

Hours and pay

Part-time work is flexible, but it means your schedule can change on a dime. Federal law says employers can change your work schedule without notice. They don’t have to ask you before they make the change, either. 

But that doesn’t mean all employers are going to stick it to you when it’s time to schedule shifts. A lot of companies, like Starbucks, have internal regulations about scheduling. 

If you work over 40 hours a week, your company has to pay you time-and-a-half. Cha-ching! 

And yes, in the United States it’s illegal to work over 40 hours without overtime pay. Don't let your employer try to weasel out of that one.

There’s no law about raises for part-time work, either. As a part-timer, you can't take your employer to court for not giving you a raise. 

The bottom line

Part-time jobs are different from full-time positions. Know the difference to find the best job for your situation. 

Ready to start looking for a job? Awesome! Start searching for the perfect part-time job near you. 

P.S. Want to know what your state says about part-time work? Use this quick directory to find your state’s labor laws. 

Alabama

Alaska

Arizona

Arkansas

California

Colorado

Connecticut

Delaware

District of Columbia

Florida

Georgia

Hawaii

Idaho

Illinois

Indiana

Iowa

Kansas

Kentucky

Louisiana

Maine

Maryland

Massachusetts

Michigan

Minnesota

Mississippi

Missouri

Montana

Nebraska

Nevada

New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

North Carolina

North Dakota

Ohio

Oklahoma

Oregon

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

South Carolina

South Dakota

Tennessee

Texas

Utah

Vermont

Virginia

Washington

West Virginia

Wisconsin

Wyoming