14 Pros and Cons of Working Part-Time

Part Time Job

Does your employment schedule fit your family’s needs?

Have your creative urges disappeared due to never having time for yourself?

Then part-time employment might suit you perfectly.

A flexible work schedule matters more to people than a job with longer, set hours.

Families, retirees, and students, for example, all benefit from fewer, shorter workdays, split shifts, seasonal positions, or contingent employment, also known as gigs. 

In addition, if you budget carefully, part-time work sometimes results in better economic outcomes than a full-time position can supply.

Conversely, however, numerous part-time jobs provide few or no traditional employer-provided benefits, such as health insurance or retirement plans.

Definition of Part-Time Work

Locating accurate data regarding the workforce challenges the most diligent analyst, as the efforts of the Bureau of Labor Statistics to identify, define, and quantify the current labor force demonstrate.

Terms such as gig economy, contingent employment, and now, “electronically-mediated employment” have all emerged to depict the current labor market more accurately.

While “electronically-mediated employment” refers specifically to online employment, those positions do not necessarily qualify as part-time.

Applicable Part-Time Employment Laws

Neither the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), nor the Bureau of Labor Statistics employ consistent definitions of part-time work.

Instead, the Bureau of Labor Statistics uses a somewhat arbitrary definition: fewer than 35 hours.

According to the final authorized text of the Affordable Care Act, if your employer schedules you 28 hours this week, 31 hours next week, and 29 hours the week after, you qualify as a part-time employee.

On the other hand, since the FLSA provides no concrete definition of part-time employment, employers may freely determine who works part-time.

Voluntary Versus Involuntary Part-Time Workers

Although conventional wisdom might lead you to believe that most part-time workers prefer full-time employment, the opposite is true, at least according to the Current Population Study, used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine why people work part-time.

According to the study findings, more than four out of five part-time workers do so by choice, not because they cannot find full-time work.

Seven Pros of Part-Time Jobs

1. Flexible Hours

Part-time positions often allow workers to come in later than the usual start time for a specific shift.

Moreover, some situations allow workers to set their on-site schedule, work remotely, or use a hybrid model that includes in-office and at-home hours.

Hybrid and remote positions provide more hours for family responsibilities despite some blurring between work and home.

In addition, flexible schedules offer much-needed time for medical appointments, school commitments, and family events the worker might otherwise have to miss.

2. Shorter Commutes

Although part-time work does not guarantee shorter commutes, these positions either only require in-office attendance on limited days per week or fewer daily in-office hours.

Of course, electronically-mediated employment does not involve any commute at all.

The savings in wear and tear, gasoline, and automotive insurance result in a paycheck that stretches farther than a job with a mandatory commute.

3. Paid Experience

For those new to the workforce, returning to the world of work, or switching careers, part-time work provides the necessary time on the job to qualify for better-paying positions with more prestige and responsibility.

Rather than knocking yourself out in an unpaid internship, a part-time job as an executive assistant, middle manager, or shop steward can help you convince your human resources department that you deserve a slot in your company’s succession plan.

4. Time and Money for Education

Working part-time allows you to blend your job with your class schedule.

Furthermore, instead of saddling yourself with student loans, you can earn as you learn or even possibly have your classes paid for by your employer.

Consult with your company’s human resource department regarding the availability of full or partial tuition reimbursement.

5. Increased Creativity

Study after study has proven that we need downtime to stir creative juices.

The “aha!” moments typically occur when our bodies and brains disengage from the daily grind.

Think of all the people who talk about wanting to write poems while sitting on a beach, paint al fresco, or create videos from their camping trip photos.

6. Higher Net Income

Ironically, a full-time job may result in less take-home pay than a part-time one.

After childcare expenses, wardrobe costs, increased reliance on takeout food, transportation expenses, and other job-related expenses, some workers lose more money than they make.

Especially true for parents, working part-time reduces the need for daycare and costly before or after school programs.

Instead, parents work opposite shifts to ensure that someone always stays home for the children.

In addition, reduced meal costs from eating at home instead of buying takeout may allow you to use that money toward a retirement plan, such as a Roth or traditional IRA.

7. Better Health

Working fewer hours results in more time for rest.

Getting sufficient rest has a direct correlation with physical and mental health.

In addition, working fewer hours puts less demand on the body, resulting in less need for expensive medications, less-frequent doctor visits, and fewer hospitalizations.

Seven Cons of Part-Time Work

1. Being On-Call

If you have ever had an on-call job, you know that nothing causes more stress than being awakened after midnight to come into work because someone else decided to be a no-call, no-show.

Moreover, being on-call means not being free to do anything else while earning no pay when you are not needed.

Eventually, you find yourself dragged out of family events to unravel a situation that could have waited until morning.

2. Split Shifts

Many part-time jobs use split shifts to avoid paying you for downtime.

Home care positions and telephone soliciting frequently require early-morning and late-afternoon attendance.

Sometimes this schedule leaves you nowhere to be between those hours, doubling your commute if you go home.

3. Tight Budgets

Many part-time jobs pay minimum wage.

However, even those that pay well provide too few hours to create a sufficient cash flow to keep your bills paid without some way to supplement that income.

4. Fewer Networking Opportunities

You may miss training sessions or networking opportunities when not in the office.

Vendors, workers, and executives from other departments and community members make impromptu and scheduled visits which may occur after you finish your shift or on your days off.

For remote workers, even when you attend teleconferences, you cannot monopolize anyone’s attention.

5. Limited Health Insurance

Unless you work for a company with more than 50 employees AND your job schedules you for 29 to 34 hours per week, your employer has no obligation to offer health insurance.

Suppose you or anyone in your family has any health problems.

Such situations may oblige reliance on public medical programs or force you to seek additional part-time work that offers health coverage.

6. Fewer Retirement Options

Most part-time employees do not receive 401k matches or participate in other company retirement plans.

As a result, you should consult with your intended employer’s Human Resources department early in the interview stage or make your arrangements for retirement yourself.

7. Difficulty Balancing Multiple Positions

When income from a single part-time position does not support a basic lifestyle, you may decide to take on other situations.

However, balancing these additional responsibilities while getting enough rest and having time for family can result in severe consequences, including death from accidents or stress.

Pros and Cons of Working Part-Time – Summary Table

Pros of Part-Time JobsCons of Part-Time Work
1. Flexible Hours1. Being On-Call
2. Shorter Commutes2. Split Shifts
3. Paid Experience3. Tight Budgets
4. Time and Money for Education4. Fewer Networking Opportunities
5. Increased Creativity5. Limited Health Insurance
6. Higher Net Income6. Fewer Retirement Options
7. Better Health7. Difficulty Balancing Multiple Positions

Should You Become a Part-time Employee?

If you value your free time, have a medical condition or disability, or have a family, part-time work may suit you.

However, only you can determine how much money will meet your needs and how few hours of work will provide that income.

Discuss your finances with your tax preparer or an accountant before transitioning into the workforce.

Draw up a reasonable budget that includes housing, utilities, education, childcare, entertainment, clothing, and work-related equipment expenses.

A proper budget meets all your needs without resorting to stacking multiple positions.

Underestimating your financial needs will inevitably result in burnout, injury, or death while rushing between one workplace and the next.

Sources

Tracking the Changing Nature of Work: the Process Continues

What Is a Part-Time Job?

Who Chooses Part-Time Work and Why?

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Full-Time Employment

Employee Retirement Income Security Act

Frequently Asked Questions

Must Employers Provide Health Insurance to Part-Time Employees?

Employers may limit your schedule, lay you off, or keep your position temporary to avoid offering health insurance.

Although shortsighted in today’s job market, some employers routinely hold employee hours below 29 or restrict staffing to below 50 to ensure that they do not have to offer health insurance to their workers.

Which Part-Time Employees Must Receive Retirement Benefits?

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act obligates employers to set minimum standards for who will receive company retirement benefits, describe how the plan will work, and how participants will become vested.

When Does a Part-Time Job Benefit Employees More Than a Full-Time Position?

A part-time job might prove advantageous if your net pay after taxes, childcare, transportation costs, and work-related expenses equals or surpasses your budget needs.

Work-related expenses include any clothing, tools, or other equipment you might need that your employer does not provide.

A cell phone, pager, laptop, or tablet used only for work, for example, would constitute a work-related expense.

Jamie Willis