According to some studies, 18 percent of the American workforce does not work the traditional Monday-Friday work week with a 9-5 workday. This abnormal work schedule may give workers more flexibility in their workweeks and make them more satisfied with their jobs. Such a work schedule is often typical for part-time workers, since most states define a part-time worker as one who works less than 40 hours per week.

Are There Drawbacks to Being a Part-Time Worker?

There are certain economic disadvantages to part-time work. If you are thinking of going part-time, you should weigh the costs and benefits of doing so. For example:

  • Career advancement – Your career advancement may slow down.
  • Clients – Some clients require full-time service and a part-time worker may not be able to provide that for them.
  • Work environment – Some part-time employees feel the pressure to prove themselves as no less than a full-time employee. Also, due to a part-time employee’s schedule, there may be less time to socialize with colleagues.
  • Pay gap – Part-time workers may not always receive the same hourly rate as full-time workers, even if they should. There may be variations depending on the occupation.
  • Alternatives – You may want to think about telecommuting instead of traveling to the office to only be there for a short time or taking advantage of childcare options.

What Obligations and Rights Do I Have as a Part-time Employee?

Generally, employees must still comply with the same company rules, policies, and procedures as full-time employees. Most part-time workers are not entitled to company benefits (i.e. extended vacations, pension and profit-sharing plans, health insurance). Sometimes, states will grant coverage to those who work more than a certain number of hours. Also, under federal law, employees who work 1,000 hours in a pension plan year must be included in pension plans that are offered to other similar workers. Other things to remember include:

  • Equal Pay Act – Part-time workers are not subject to the rules that men and women doing the same job must be paid equally.
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) – Companies are exempt from the FMLA when they employ a sufficient number of temporary, contract employees or part-time workers.
  • Workplace rules – You may be terminated for poor performance. You are subject to the company’s work rules and requirements, the same as other workers.
  • Pay – Payroll deductions and taxes will be reflected in your paycheck.
  • Legal obligations – The company must still comply with safety regulations, must not make promises it does not intend to keep, and must avoid discriminatory acts.

Do I Need an Experienced Employment Law Attorney?

As a worker, it is up to you to decide whether the benefits of taking a part-time position outweigh the costs. An employment lawyer would be able to inform you of your rights as a part-time worker, but ultimately the choice to become one is up to you.