The Essential Guide to Working Part-Time Hours

Updated 18 August 2023

Key takeaways:

  • While it varies by employer, part-time jobs are typically fewer than 35 hours per week.

  • Part-time jobs can offer flexibility, supplemental income or opportunities to pursue other interests.

  • Part-time jobs typically also come with fewer benefits such as healthcare and advancement opportunities.

Part-time employment can be an excellent option for professionals seeking an improved work-life balance. Before accepting a part-time position, you should learn more about what to expect from this type of work arrangement. In this article, we discuss what standard part-time hours are, the advantages of part-time work and some possible part-time positions.

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What is the difference between casual, permanent and fixed contract part-time workers?

There are three kinds of part-time employment: casual , permanent and fixed contract part-time. All of these types of employees work fewer hours than full-time employees:

Casual part-time

Casual part-time employees work when their employers need them to. This is the most common type of part-time worker, making up more than half of the country's part-time workforce. Their hours can vary from week to week. Permanent and fixed contract part-time workers work set hours on regular rosters. Companies employ permanent part-time workers until they resign or they terminate their contract. Fixed contract part-time workers only have work contracts for shorter periods, such as during the festive season.

Related: What Is a Fixed-Term Contract? (Definition and FAQs)

Fixed-contract and permanent

As fixed contract and permanent part-time employees work regular hours, they also receive a regular salary for their period of employment. This salary applies even if the employer decides to cancel shifts.


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Benefits for part-time workers

Employers must make superannuation contributions for any casual part-time or permanent part-time worker with a pre-tax monthly income of $450 or more. In addition, permanent part-time workers are eligible for all the benefits of full-time workers, including:

  • Four weeks of annual leave

  • Ten days of sick leave or carer's leave

  • 18 weeks of maternity leave paid or two weeks' partner leave paid at the national minimum rate per newborn

  • Long-service leave

Employers calculate leave entitlements on a pro-rata basis, so the more a permanent part-time employee works, the more hours of leave they accrue. However, as their working weeks are shorter than full-time workers, both types of employees enjoy the same time off.

Fixed contract part-time workers do not receive leave. Usually, they are also responsible for their own superannuation. However, some fixed contract part-time workers receive superannuation as part of their contract terms. While casual part-time workers do not receive leave, their employer compensates them with a higher hourly rate than comparable permanent part-time workers. Casual loading is the name for increasing a casual part-time worker's hourly rate.

Many permanent and casual part-time workers also receive overtime pay if they work more than a maximum number of hours in one day, one week or one roster cycle. Maximum hours vary between industries.

Related: Pro Rata Salary: What Is It and How Is It Calculated?

Notice periods for part-time workers

Employers must give minimum notice periods before terminating a permanent part-time worker's employment or altering their rostered hours. Employers must provide one to four weeks' notice before terminating a permanent part-time worker's employment, depending on the length of time they worked for the company. Notice for altering rostered hours varies depending on the industry award standards, although two weeks is typical.

Employers do not need to provide notice before terminating or altering the hours of a casual or contract part-time worker, under the Fair Work Act. However, employers may need to reimburse the part-time contractor if they alter or terminate their contract.

How many hours does a part-time worker work?

Part-time workers work less than full-time workers. This is less than 38 hours, and usually less than 32 hours. The average part-time worker in Australia works 17 hours each week. Part-time hours vary based on a part-time worker's industry and employer. Some industries have minimum hours for part-time workers. For example, permanent part-time workers in the restaurant industry must work at least eight hours a week.

Employers must list the hours of a part-time job clearly in a permanent or fixed part-time employee's contract. The interviewer should tell the casual worker approximately how many weekly hours they will work during the hiring process.

Advantages of part-time work

Part-time workers enjoy many advantages in addition to their legal benefits. Consider the following benefits when deciding whether part-time work is right for you:

  • Greater work-life balance: Working part-time hours leaves more time for pursuing interests outside the office. Many part-time workers say they have more balance in their lives than full-time workers.

  • Greater flexibility: Working part-time lets you keep a more flexible schedule. Casual part-time workers can decline shifts if they do not suit them, while permanent part-time workers can often swap unsuitable shifts with other part-time colleagues. This flexibility is ideal when you have sick children, travel plans or other obligations.

  • Time to pursue your passions: With less time in the office, you can make time for other things that matter to you. Part-time work could allow you to be there to collect your kids from school, study, volunteer for a charity or work on a hobby, for example.

  • Improved mental health: Greater work-life balance, flexibility and time for fun are all great mood boosters. Part-time workers are often less stressed than full-time employees as they work less and often know others at their workplace can do their job for them in their absence. They also tend to have more time for sleep and exercise, which can also improve mental health.

  • Improved time management skills: As part-time employees have less time at work, they often become expert time managers. Working full time can help you become a more organised and productive employee.

  • Ability to supplement your income: Many people work part-time jobs in addition to other part-time or full-time jobs to supplement their incomes. For example, you could work full-time as a teacher, then take a part-time fixed contract job during the summer holidays to supplement your income.

  • Ability to provide child care: Many parents work part-time so that they can be available for their children. Many parents work only during the school day, so they can take their children to school and collect them in the afternoon, or on evenings or weekends when their partners are home. This arrangement allows parents to reduce their reliance on formal child care and relatives.

  • Increased earning potential: Part-time workers can also see their earnings fluctuate during busy periods. For example, employers frequently ask retail assistants to work additional or longer shifts leading up to Christmas. Some industries also pay overtime rates to part-time employees working extra hours.

  • Potential for other professional opportunities: Part-time jobs often lead to other opportunities within organisations or industries. Many companies promote motivated part-time employees that show promise in their organisations. You may decide to move into a full-time role later if it suits your lifestyle and priorities better.

Ideal jobs for part-time work

Many jobs are well suited to part-time work. If you want to work less than full-time hours, consider taking one of the following roles:

  • Retail assistant

  • Hairdresser

  • Nurse

  • Cook

  • Accountant

  • Administrative professional

  • Driver

Retail assistant

Many retailers rely on part-time retail assistants to ensure their shops have enough staff. They have the same responsibilities as full-time retail assistants, including manning checkouts, processing refunds and providing customer service within the store. There are part-time opportunities for retail assistants all year round, but many retailers may employ extra part-time workers leading up to the busy Christmas season.


The beauty industry employs part-time workers in a variety of roles, including hairdressers. Like full-time hairdressers, part-time hairdressers spend their time cutting, colouring and styling hair. They are more likely to work weekends than full-time workers. Part-time hairdressers working in shopping centre salons are also more likely to work on Thursday nights and any other nights with extended trading.


Hospitals often employ part-time nurses in a range of departments. Part-time nurses share equal responsibility for patient care with full-time nurses. They may work shifts during the day, evening and overnight.


The hospitality industry is a leading employer of part-time workers, including part-time cooks. Part-time cooks work in a variety of hospitality settings, including fast food eateries, fine dining restaurants and hotels. They usually work under a head chef, preparing ingredients, performing cooking tasks and plating finished dishes.


Many small and medium businesses employ part-time accountants rather than full-time accountants to manage their relatively simple financial needs. Part-time accountants are responsible for analysing and managing company finances. They track expenses and invoices and may follow up on late payments. They may also prepare and lodge business activity statements and tax returns.

Administrative assistant

Many small and medium businesses also employ part-time administrative professionals like administrative assistants, secretaries and receptionists. These businesses have limited filing, typing, planning and organisational needs, so choosing part-time administrative assistants allows them to manage these tasks for less than hiring someone full time. These roles often enable administrative assistants to work short daily shifts, so they are ideal for parents with school-aged children.


The transport industry employs a variety of drivers, including taxi drivers, bus drivers and train drivers, on a part-time basis. A part-time workforce makes it easier for transport firms to deliver transport at all hours of the day and night. Like their full-time counterparts, part-time drivers operate passenger vehicles safely and efficiently to their destinations.

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