Part-time vs. Full-time: What's the Difference?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 20 November 2022 | Published 30 August 2021

Updated 20 November 2022

Published 30 August 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

An employee's type of employment determines the number of hours they work for a company in a week. However, there's more to full-time and part-time employment than just the number of hours. It goes a long way to determining the benefits an employee can receive from a job. In this article, we discuss part-time vs. full-time, their differences and the benefits of each employment type.

What is part-time employment?

Part-time employment is a type of employment arrangement that allows employees to work fewer hours in a week than worked by individuals under full-time employment. This means that when a company considers 40 hours in a week as full-time, any employee who works fewer hours is considered a part-time employee.

This specified number of hours varies from company to company. The individuals who work under this work schedule are often retirees, students or individuals also holding other jobs. Some of the jobs that are often classified under part-time include waiter, nanny, delivery driver and barista.

Read more: How many hours per week is part-time?

What is full-time employment?

Full-time employment is when an employee works the total number of hours considered by the company as full-time in a week. As a result, an employee with full-time employment works more hours in a company than a part-time employee. Again, most full-time employees occupy exclusive positions which require professional education, experience or training. Examples of such full-time roles include human resources, software engineering and financial analyst.

Under UK labour law, a full-time employee works 35 hours a week or more. Different companies work within this ambit to stipulate the number of hours a full-time employee may work. However, such working hours must not be more than 48 hours a week except under specified conditions. Some of these conditions include:

  • If you work in a job where 24-hour staffing is necessary

  • If you work as a domestic worker in a private family circle

  • If you're a sea fisherman or labourer on a vessel

  • If you work under security and surveillance

  • If you're part of the police, emergency services and armed forces

  • If you're in control of your working time. For example, where you're a freelancer or a managing director in your establishment

Related: 10 employers that offer part-time jobs with benefits

Part-time vs. full-time

The most significant difference between part-time vs. full-time employment lies in the number of hours the employees work. However, there're other salient differences between them. Here are some differences between full-time and part-time employment:

Number of hours

Most full-time employment requires employees to work between 35 and 40 hours a week. Their working time is often divided amongst five days of the week (Monday through Friday) with eight hours each day. This is different from the work schedule of a part-time employee who may work irregular hours, shorter shifts and sometimes time on weekends.

Pay

The disparity in the pay given to part-time and full-time employees is another significant difference worthy of mention. Most part-time employees are paid hourly, while full-time roles receive the same or a flat salary.

This means that if a part-time employee on a £10 hourly wage works a total of 20 hours a week, they'll receive a payment of £200. Whereas a full-time employee making £10/hour may receive a payment of £200 whether he works more than 20 hours or not.

Related: 16 part-time jobs that pay well

Schedules

Full-time employment requires employees to work around the stipulated working hours and may have limited flexibility. Thus, where the work schedule specifies a total of 40 hours a week, an employee needs to work these hours so long as the employment continues.

However, part-time employment is more flexible and can be adjusted subject to employee availability and employer requirements. For instance, in a particular week, a part-time employee may choose to work four hours daily for the rest of the week and six hours daily for the next week. If the business allows, they may even work night shifts or rotate their shifts. If the business doesn't need as many staff during a quiet period, they may reduce part-time staff hours.

Related: How to balance studying and working full time (with tips)

Benefits

The UK labour law protects part-time employees from being treated less fairly than full-time employees. This means that part-time and full-time employees in an organisation are entitled to the same benefits such as health insurance, holidays and pay rates. The only difference is that part-time employees receive these benefits pro rata.

However, an employer can dispense with this requirement for part-time employees if they can prove objective justification. This means proving that there must be a good reason why they'll not be able to treat both full-time and part-time employees the same. An example is when an employer shows that the cost of offering health insurance to part-time workers is unequal to the services they render.

Job security

Most people believe that a full-time role offers them more job security than it does part-time employees. Most employees offer additional benefits and higher remuneration to full-time employees. However, this is not entirely true as both job types can be relieved of their duties at any time subject to the terms of their employment.

Related: 6 benefits of working part-time instead of full-time

Benefits of working part-time

Choosing a part-time working schedule over full-time employment comes with numerous benefits. Below are some of the benefits of working a part-time job:

Flexible schedule and free time

One of the most significant benefits of part-time employment is the flexible schedule, and free time it offers employees. Employees working part-time jobs can use this free time to pursue other personal projects or extracurricular activities. For example, a part-time employee can be working in a company and still be pursuing the certification needed to get their desired job. Or they can be working and also investing in their book project or artistic ventures.

Related: Guide: what are the benefits of a 32-hour work week?

Opportunity to earn more

Often, working a part-time job offers individuals an opportunity to make more money than full-time employees. This is achieved when the employee can work two or more part-time jobs at a time. For instance, a part-time employee may work a total of 30 hours in their first job and another 30 hours in their second job. The total paycheck they'll receive at the end of the week may exceed the amount a full-time employee made working the same number of hours.

Increased flexibility and more free time

Full-time employment demands a strict time budget which can be more demanding. Part-time employees have more free time and a more flexible schedule. Since part-time work offers them more time, they may rest better, exercise more often and have time to attend to their personal responsibilities.

More time for personal commitments

People who're family-oriented or have caring commitments can benefit from part-time employment. The extra time it offers gives them more time for their personal commitments. Additionally, this can also help reduce the amount of money spent on childcare for their kids.

Related: Work-life imbalance: what it means and its effect

Benefits of working full-time

Full-time employment enjoys certain advantages over part-time employment. Below are some of these advantages unique to working a full-time role:

Perks and benefits

As stated earlier, UK labour law requires employers to treat both full-time and part-time employees alike. However, the law provides an exception to this. This means that benefits for part-time employees can be more easily withheld than for employees working full-time. Some of the benefits full-time employees may enjoy include:

  • Group income protection

  • Corporate health insurance

  • Group critical illness insurance

  • Death in service cover

  • Digital GP service

Stipulated working hours

While part-time employment offers employees a malleable and rotatable schedule, this can often backfire. This is because the uncertainty of their work schedule may make it difficult to fit other social engagements into their schedule. This is not so with full-time employment. Full-time employees often enjoy fixed working hours which gives predictability to their schedule.

Related: FTE meaning: how to calculate full-time equivalent

Fixed pay

Another benefit that comes with a full-time role is its fixed remuneration fees. Full-time employees receive annual salaries, which are divided and paid monthly. This ensures a fixed amount of income every month, thereby increasing their financial security. This makes budgeting and saving easier and more predictable.

Related: Breaking into full-time work with a contract background

Possibility of earning more

With full-time employment, there's the potential of earning more annually. This is because, as mentioned earlier, most full-time roles require specific expertise and educational qualification. Employees hired to work in these specialised positions tend to earn more by the end of the year than part-time vs full-time employees.

This article is based on information available at the time of writing, which may change at any time. Indeed does not guarantee that this information is always up-to-date. Please seek out a local resource for the latest on this topic.

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