5 Workers' Rights That Every Part-Time Employee Should Know

May 7th 2016

Part-time employees are valuable assets who significantly impact and improve the productivity and profits for many businesses. It is important for employees, both full- and part-time, to know their rights and ensure they are being treated fairly according to federal and state laws.


An employee who is considered part-time cannot be treated or reprimanded differently than a full-time employee when it comes to policies and procedures of the company. The Fair Labor Standards Act, a federal law, deems that part-time and full-time employees should be held to the same standards regarding business policies and procedures.

Overtime Pay

The Fair Labor Standards Act stipulates that part-time employees should be paid overtime pay in the same manner as full-time employees. Employers who expect their part-time employees to work 40 hours or more in a week must pay overtime to those employees just as they would to full-time employees. Some employers opt to pay overtime to employees who work fewer than 40 hours, although it is not required unless an employee exceeds the full-time hour allotment. Salaried or commission-only employees may not qualify for overtime pay.

Minimum Wage

An employer cannot choose to pay less than the state-mandated minimum wage just because an employee is part-time. Both full-time and part-time employees must receive compensation at the minimum wage level unless the job classification stipulates a different amount as ruled by the state. Some tipped workers, such as restaurant servers, may be paid an hourly rate that is lower than minimum wage as long as that amount plus the amount received in tips is equal to or greater than minimum wage.

Safety Standards

Part-time employees are covered under the same policies regulated by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) as full-time employees. OSHA's safety and health policies regulate work-related illnesses, injuries and occupational hazards. It is illegal for employers to withhold safety supplies and training for employees who are only part-time.

Retirement Benefits

Most part-time employees are not offered health insurance or benefits from employers. Employees who do work 1,000 hours or more during one calendar year, though, may be eligible for retirement benefits as stipulated by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.


Part-time employees typically work less than 35 to 40 hours per week and are oftentimes considered temporary or seasonal workers. Employers often seek part-time employees to help with fluctuations within the business and increased work demands. Part-time employees are commonly paid hourly and are held to the same performance, safety and business standards as full-time employees. A common myth is that part-time employees do not have any rights, but they do. It is important for workers who are part-time to know their rights so that their employers do not take advantage of them.

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