Whether you need someone to help you out for a couple of hours a week, or need to take extra work on to support your new venture – you’ll probably come across part-time jobs at some point in your small business career.

But what are part-time hours? Do part-time employees get the same benefits as those working full-time? This blog contains all your answers, and more!

So… what is a part-time job?

A part-time job simply involves working fewer hours in a week than a full-time job. Often, part-time jobs involve working in shifts. These shifts are usually rotational with other part-time workers.

There is no clear part-time definition. There aren’t any legal guidelines to help define the number of hours you have to work, or the difference between part-time and full-time employees. This will all be decided by the employer.

How many hours is a part-time job?

Whether an employee is part-time or full-time will depend on the individual company’s policy. How they define employees, and how many hours are considered to be full time, will vary.

If you’re creating a company policy and need general guidelines, then consider the following:

  • Less than 30 hours a week is considered to be part-time in most cases.
  • The standard full-time employee used to work 40 hours a week.
  • As an employer, you can ultimately decide which jobs are classed as part-time.
  • You’ll have to consider the number of hours and days worked when calculating the employee’s Bradford Factor.

If you need to increase the number of hours an employee works, consider offering them Time in Lieu or overtime.

Who would benefit from part-time hours?

Part-time work would suit a number of different people. Students, parents, retirees who need to support their pension and freelancers who need to support themselves while they pursue a passion are all typical examples.

There may be others who don’t want, or can’t afford, the commitment a full-time job requires of their time. They may be better suited to working multiple part-time jobs – to gain more experience, for example.

In a struggling economy, full-time jobs may become rarer. It may therefore be the case that they have to take a part-time job as full-time work isn’t available.

In this economy, employers may choose to offer part-time work over full-time, as they are not usually required to offer the same health and personal benefits.

What workplace benefits are part-time employees entitled to?

As mentioned above, part-time jobs don’t tend to have the same benefits as full-time jobs.

Part-time workers are entitled to the following workplace benefits:

  • Equal pay rates, including sick pay and parental leave
  • The same pension opportunities and benefits as full-time employees
  • The same holiday rights as full-time employees
  • Equal training and career opportunities
  • Equal consideration for promotion, transfer or redundancy
  • The opportunity of a career break

How other benefits apply will vary. For example, part-time employee may not be entitled to overtime pay until they’ve worked more than the normal hours of a full-time employee.

In other instances, you (as an employer) will have to make an “objective justification” as to why the benefits are not applicable. You may, for example, decide not to provide health insurance to part-time employees because the costs involved are disproportionate to other benefits.

Additional benefits you’re entitled to as a part-time employee

If the boot is on the other foot and you have a part-time job, then you’ll be entitled to the following benefits:

  • Income support (if you qualify e.g. as a single parent) or jobseeker’s allowance if you work less than 16 hours per week, and if your partner works fewer than 24 hours.
  • You’re entitled to pension credit, council tax support and housing benefit regardless of whether you’re part-time or full-time.
  • You may be entitled to more benefits specific to your company, so check your employee handbook or ask.

If you’re setting up a business or freelancing, then keep in mind that your total income will affect the government benefits you can get. Genuine business assets like vehicles or property reserved solely for your work, and money kept in a separate business bank account, will not count.

Hiring part-time employees can help small business flourishWhat to look for when hiring a part-time employee

If you’re looking to hire a part-time employee, then you’ll need someone who can be flexible with their working hours.

Likewise, you should also keep in mind any other commitments candidates may have, such as second jobs or ongoing projects. If you aren’t fair, you may find them handing their notice in before too long!

Hiring a part-time employee is a great way to get the experience and support your company needs without overstretching your budget or HR abilities.

Part-time employees can also improve your business’s agility, helping you respond to heavier workloads at peak times or extend your business’s operating hours by covering weekends and evenings.

Before you start hiring for a part-time role, you’ll need to give special consideration to the number of hours they’ll work, what the job role is and how you’ll compensate for the workload when your part-time hire isn’t in.

For more tips, you can read about the recruitment and hiring process here.

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