Part-Time Employment Regulations

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Part-time jobs differ from full-time employment in ways other than just the time spent at work and the amount of money earned. Many of the federal laws enacted to protect employees do not apply to temporary or part-time workers. Accordingly, part-time workers need to understand part-time employment regulations.


The federal Fair Labor Standards Act, which governs overtime wages, the minimum wage, child labor and record-keeping requirements, does not define full-time or part-time employment. Rather, part-time employment is generally defined by the business employing the part-time worker and is a matter of agreement between the parties. Because the act does not differentiate between part-time and full-time employees, such a designation does not change the application of the act. However, other laws and regulations do not protect part-time employees to the same extent as full-time employees. For example, the federal Equal Pay Act does not protect part-time employees from the requirement that men and women performing the same job should be paid equally.


Part-time employees can include leased, contract, freelance and temporary employees. Leased and contract employees are hired by a company to work at a particular job site for a period of time or project duration. Once that job is finished, they are assigned to a different job. Generally, most states have regulations defining part-time employees as those employees that work less than 40 hours per week. Most part-time workers are paid by the hour and are not entitled to company benefits, such as vacation pay, health insurance, sick leave or retirement.


Part-time workers must still comply with the same rules, policies and company procedures as full-time employees. Part-time workers can also be terminated for poor performance or misconduct just like full-time employees. Part-time workers also have payroll deductions and taxes reflected in their paychecks. Legal duties owed by a business to its work force, such as complying with safety and health regulations, also apply to both part-time and full-time employees.


For employers, part-time employees can provide an affordable and useful solution to fluctuations in the work load, as well as providing staff for special projects designed to last a certain amount of time. Part-time employees allow employers to monitor and exert control over employees' work while still saving money by avoiding paying salary and costly benefits full-time employees would generally require.


States have different regulations regarding part-time employees. For example, in some states, part-time employees, like full-time employees, must be paid for overtime, lunch breaks or coffee breaks. To ensure a business is in compliance with all applicable regulations governing part-time employees, contact your state Department of Labor, or an experienced employment law attorney.



About the Author

Jill Lewis is an attorney in the insurance defense field who combines an active law practice with a freelance writing career. Concentrating on legal articles dedicated to providing practical advice to the layperson, Lewis has written for various online and print publications, including eHow and She is a graduate of New York University and the Lewis and Clark School of Law.

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  • Image by, courtesy of Alexander Kaiser