What is a Part-Time Job?

At a glance

Part-time jobs are jobs that require fewer working hours than full-time positions, generally less than 30 hours a week.

Published on:
April 18, 2024

Understanding Part-Time Employment

Part-time jobs require fewer than full-time hours in a position. Each company sets standards to define part-time work. Part-time employment is a cornerstone of the modern workforce. It provides a flexible employment option for those who may not have the time to work 40 hours a week or wish to spread their time across multiple commitments.

The main differences between full-time and part-time employment include:

  • Full-time employment implies a minimum of 40 hours per week; part-time jobs typically offer 35 hours or fewer each week.  
  • Most full-time roles must include benefits such as healthcare insurance included with their compensation. In contrast, part-time roles only need to be compensated through wages.
  • Full-time roles typically operate through salaries; part-time roles typically operate through hourly wages.

Available in almost every industry, part-time employment allows professionals to earn income by working somewhere for fewer than 40 hours a week.

Historical Context and Evolution

The U.S. Department of Labor does not have specific guidelines for how many hours constitute a part-time job; however, the Affordable Care Act defines it as anyone working less than an average of 30 hours per week. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics divides part-time work into categories based on the reason for working part-time, with economic or “involuntary” workers choosing to do part-time jobs because they could not find full-time work and noneconomic or “voluntary” workers choosing to because they are not willing or able to work over 35 hours a week. The majority of part-time workers in the U.S. are voluntary part-time employees. 

While weekly hours will vary across workplaces, most part-time workers in the U.S. voluntarily choose to work in part-time roles.

Advantages of Part-Time Employment

For businesses, part-time employment reduces overhead by having workers for whom they do not need to provide benefits packages. Finding employees to schedule shifts rather than filling full-time roles can also be more accessible. Part-time workers benefit from their limited time at their workplace, giving them some flexibility regarding what they do with their week. Part-time jobs can also be great learning opportunities for those new to an industry. Students, parents, professionals with multiple jobs, and retirees are a few examples of people who can benefit from part-time roles. 

Part-time jobs offer lower costs and increased ease of scheduling for small business owners while providing flexibility and learning opportunities for workers.

Challenges and Considerations

One challenge inherent to part-time positions is that workers who are only around sometimes may not be as committed to a company or its culture as full-time employees. This can lead to low productivity and a high turnover rate. It can also be challenging to schedule employees with varying schedules. 

While partial employment offers many advantages to small businesses, part-time employment may present challenges such as scheduling difficulties, low morale, and high turnover.

Best Practices for Small Businesses

Businesses that want part-time employment must offer competitive benefits to stand out to a workforce with changing preferences. Some that cater well to part-time workers include flexible scheduling, child care assistance, and paid time off, which can help employees achieve work-life balance and establish loyalty. Additionally, following federal and state employment guidelines is important for small businesses to avoid legal issues and associated costs. 

Staying compliant with employment laws and up-to-date with job seeker preferences is crucial for businesses to find, hire, and retain part-time talent effectively.

The Future of Part-Time Employment

The world of work is constantly changing, especially with technological advancements and increasingly high worker standards. The gig economy and rise of freelance work bolstered by the pandemic have added a new layer of complexity that forces hiring managers to remain adaptable. Part-time work will continue to evolve as people do; small businesses will have to learn to keep up or be left behind with ineffective ‘we’re hiring’ signs. 

Part-time employment options will likely evolve significantly as remote and freelance work options increase, forcing businesses to accommodate new standards.

Main takeaway

Part-time work is integral to small businesses worldwide. Employers who learn how to effectively implement strategies that bolster their part-time employment options and recruiting efforts are likely to see long-term success in hiring, retention, and revenue. 

About the author

Casey Pontrelli

Casey Pontrelli is a multi-talented professional with a background in content creation, branding, and social media marketing. Whether writing for a newspaper, eCommerce website, B2B startup, or a marketing agency, she has taken her strong background in journalism and turned her focus to SEO and content marketing. She’s written about everything from boutiques to cars to small businesses, and enjoys most when she knows her writing has had an impact. When she’s not writing up a storm or creating attention-grabbing social media posts, Casey enjoys hanging out with her two cats, Eddy and Larry, going on long walks in the Green Belt, and, predictably, reading.

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