Part-Time Work

What are common part-time arrangements to consider, and how to implement them successfully.

What Is Part-Time Work

An arrangement in which employees work reduced hours on a regular basis. Part-time employees normally work less than 35 hours in a week, including those who work less than a full day all week or only some days per week. Examples include organisations employing part-time employees to provide coverage of duties during peak periods or when work needs to be done only at particular times (e.g. retail).

Increasingly, employers are offering part-time work options to back-to-work women and retirees where part-time work is preferred or the only work option.

What Are Common Part-Time Arrangements

It is common for organisations to adopt a combination of the approaches below to suit their business and employees' needs.

Work Shorter Days

Under this arrangement, employees work a full work week but shorter days (e.g. half days). The management and employees have to agree on the new hours based on the organisation's peak hours, employee's selected hours, or a combination of both.

In addition, both parties must agree on the duration of lunch breaks. Part-time employees may sometimes have shorter lunch breaks due to shorter working hours. Employees may also have revised rest hours and work during lunch breaks to ensure a continuation of operations.

Work Fewer Days Weekly

Under this arrangement, employees work fewer days per week than a full-time employee, although they may cover the same hours as a full-time employee on each day. Most organisations have two or more part-time employees. In such cases, companies can pair employees so that each employee works alternate days.

Employee A works on Monday, Wednesday and Friday on even weeks, and Tuesday and Thursday on odd weeks. Employee B works on Tuesdays and Thursdays on even weeks, and Monday, Wednesday and Friday on odd weeks.

Above: Example schedule where two part-time employees work on alternate days

If there is only one part-time employee, this person usually works on the company's peak day. To avoid misunderstandings, management should clarify issues related to specific day(s) of work.


Work During Weekends (to Cover High-Volume Periods)

This arrangement is usually adopted by companies that operate all seven days a week, or companies with peak periods during weekends (e.g. food and beverage or retail outlets).

How to Determine the Suitability of Part-Time Work

There are many industries where part-time work and staggered time are especially relevant. However, in cases where both arrangements are acceptable, a part-time arrangement usually yields more benefit – especially in industries where operations occur at a fixed time, or when customer flow peaks over a certain period of time.

To determine the suitability of part-time work in your organisation, you should:

If barriers to part-time work cannot be resolved, you may consider other types of flexible work arrangements.