People of every generation consider flexibility a priority in the workplace. They’re looking for jobs with flexible hours or locations over work-life balance, benefits, pay, and culture.
This might be why part-time employment is on the rise, with the number of part-time workers in the U.S. increased by over 1 million in 2022. Most of those workers clock in between 20 and 35 hours, leaving extra time for family, school, or personal development.
Full-time employees usually receive benefits from their employers, but the details surrounding benefits for part-time employees can get a little murky. Regulations aren’t always as strict, meaning things like scheduling, healthcare, and taxes depend on you and your employer’s agreement.
It’s important to pay careful attention to your employer’s part-time employee benefits policy. You deserve perks even if you’re part-time.
What are part-time employee benefits?
Part-time employee benefits vary from employer to employer and for full-time versus part-time benefits. Generally, they include the same perks as full-time positions, like life insurance, retirement, paid sick leave, and healthcare.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) doesn’t consider part-time employment differently from full-time. But most employee benefits, like vacation, severance pay, or breaks at work, aren’t FLSA regulated.
Instead, it’s up to the employer and employee to reach an agreement. Still, in most cases, full-time employees have more benefits than part-time ones.
For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2022, medical benefits were available to 88% of full-time employees but only 23% of part-time employees. The same report shared that retirement benefits were available to 81% of full-time employees and 43% of part-time employees.
Required benefits also vary from state to state. Check your state’s policy to see if you’re entitled to anything above what your employer offers.
Providing equal benefits for part-time employees is up to the employer — and though it’s less common, it’s not unheard of. Finding the right position with benefits that match your needs is more than possible.
Customary part-time benefits
Sometimes, part-time employees do get benefits beyond what’s legally required. It just depends on your employer.
Although part-time benefits are likely to be less robust than those for full-time employees, here are some that an employer’s benefit plan may offer you:
The average annual health insurance premium in the U.S. was $7,911 in 2022, and that’s only for individuals. Healthcare premiums are a sizable expense for the average household, making them one of the most important perks in any employee benefits package. Several types of insurance might be offered, including:
Medical insurance: usually covers visits to the doctor or hospital, prescriptions, and annual exams
Dental insurance: usually covers exams, cleanings, extractions, and repairs, not including cosmetic procedures like whitening
Vision insurance: usually covers exams, prescription glasses or contact lenses, and surgeries like laser eye procedures or cataract surgery
Your access to healthcare will depend less on the number of hours you work and more on the size of the company. Under the Affordable Care Act, small businesses with less than 50 full-time employees aren’t required to offer healthcare benefits.
Applicable large employers (ALEs) do have to offer medical benefits, but only to full-time employees. Larger businesses have more resources, so they’re generally more likely to extend their benefits to part-time employees.
If your employer doesn’t offer health insurance to part-timers, consider the cost of purchasing your own when negotiating your compensation and benefits.
Many larger companies invest in employees’ academic growth, like helping with college tuition or certification programs, but it’s a somewhat rare perk. Employers may also offer reimbursement programs where they pay you back for tuition directly or through a loan provider.
Professional development budget
Apart from traditional schooling options, companies might pay for development opportunities, from conferences to career coaches or one-off courses. This serves the company as much as you, and it’s a great negotiation point for a benefits package.
Paid time off (PTO)
One of the biggest stressors for freelancers and part-timers isn’t just asking for time off, but getting paid for it.
In many cases — especially for hourly jobs — when you don’t work, you don’t get paid. Whether an employer gives part-timers limited or unlimited PTO (or any at all), they’ll specify the details in the contract.
A retirement plan is your source of income after leaving the workforce.
In the United States, retirement plans are typically 401(k)s, in which you set aside a percentage of your income to be automatically taken out of every paycheck. Some employers offer 401(k) matching and other benefits to help you save for when you’re ready to retire.
Employee stock options (ESOs)
Startups and larger employers often offer company stock options, which can come in the form of actual stocks or the right to buy stocks at a lower price. As a benefit, employers can offer them to all employees or to high achievers.
Even if you don’t want to dedicate full-time work to the company, taking company stock demonstrates your long-term interest and commitment. If the company succeeds, so does the employee.
Your time is important — that’s likely the reason you decided to go part-time, to begin with. Any time your schedule exceeds contracted hours, employers might compensate accordingly.
If you work hourly, extra hours may be subject to 1.5 to 2 times more than your regular pay. If you work on a project basis, include a fee in your contract to cover anything that falls out of the scope of your contract.
Benefits of a part-time job
Working a part-time job is all about priorities, and sometimes you have to choose flexibility over in-depth benefits. Here are some other positives to part-time employment:
1. Space for new job opportunities
Part-time jobs are ideal for creatives and consultants who enjoy mixing things up with new projects and clients. A steady 20-hour workweek offers more time to work on other projects.
For example, an aspiring fashion photographer might work part-time at an ad agency and build a portfolio on the side, or a writer might work in marketing to fund a book project.
And if you already have a full-time job, working extra hours somewhere else can give you wiggle room in case your job stability wanes.
2. Help with a career transition
If you decide to embark on a new professional path, a part-time job gives you the security of a regular paycheck and the extra time to search for a full-time job. Working part-time could also give you experience in a field without requiring a full commitment.
3. Reduced stress
The average American worker clocks in 34 hours a week as of December 2022, including part-timers. But near-constant connectivity to emails, messaging platforms, and workflow apps might make that time feel longer, and people who work over 40 hours sometimes lack energy for personal responsibilities.
Part-time employees have more free time to balance work, home, and personal pursuits, which can help offset stress and help them protect their energy.
4. More independence with your time
Time is your most valuable asset, and it’s one of the most obvious benefits of a part-time job.
Many part-time jobs allow you to schedule your time with more freedom. Not only do you spend less time working, but you also aren’t tied to a 9-to-5. You may be able to build your work week to better fit your work style, like working mornings when you have more energy.
Lots of part-time workers also use their flexibility for childcare, personal projects, and mental and physical wellness.
Free time is an important part of mental fitness. Having a healthy amount of free time every day can significantly reduce stress. Dedicate your extra time to personal and professional growth, like taking up yoga, pursuing a creative hobby, learning new skills, or going back to school.
Common FAQs related to part-time benefits
Do part-time employees get health insurance?
The part-time benefits law around healthcare depends on the business you work for. Small business owners are likely exempt from providing healthcare benefits to part-time employees.
If you’re looking for part-time work that offers medical and dental benefits, search for a job at a larger company. If they have a large number of full-time employees, they’re more likely to offer benefits to part-timers, too.
Do I have to attend a particular program or school to apply for tuition assistance?
Every individual company will define the specific details for tuition assistance. Sometimes, education benefits only apply to certain subjects, schools, or programs.
Some companies may also have a dollar cap on tuition or only reimburse a certain number of courses. Speak with your supervisor or human resources department to understand the details of your tuition assistance program, if you have one.
Do benefits vary depending on location or company?
Yes, different states have different requirements. Some employee benefits are required by federal and state law, like minimum wage, disability insurance, paid leave, unemployment, workers’ compensation, and overtime.
Local law will determine the exact details, like the minimum wage or number of days for paid leave. Employers then choose which benefits they want to offer and to whom.
Going part-time has many benefits
There’s a lot to take into account when considering a part-time job, like pay cuts and lifestyle changes versus your need for flexibility.
If you value perks, part-time employee benefits should be at the top of your priority list. The right medical, vacation time and retirement plan impact your personal, professional, and financial wellness.
Take the time to sit down and write out your needs. Not only will you know what to look for in a new job, but you’ll also be ready to analyze and negotiate the right employee benefits package with your new employer.