Website of the UK government

Please note that this website has a UK government accesskeys system.

Public services all in one place

Main menu

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Part-time work

Working part time can be a good way of balancing your work and your personal commitments. If you work part time, you have the right to be treated fairly in comparison to your full-time colleagues.

What is a part-time worker?

A part-time worker is someone who works fewer hours than a full-time worker. There is no specific number of hours that makes someone full or part time, but a full-time worker will usually work 35 hours or more a week.

Why you might choose to work part time

The reasons for working part time vary from individual to individual. It may be that you simply want to have a different work-life balance, or you may have caring responsibilities. If you are interested in changing your working patterns you might find it useful to read about flexible working.


Jobsharing arrangements are a special form of part-time work, where a full-time job is divided between two part-time workers. The job can be divided in a number of ways to best suit everyone’s circumstances. For example, you could opt to work mornings and a colleague work in the afternoons. Alternatively, you could split the week between you, both working three set days with a hand-over period on one day of the week.

A jobshare offers the benefit to you and your employer of predictable hours. This gives you the chance to arrange childcare, for example, and they know there will always be cover for the job.

Employment rights of part-time workers

Part-time employees have the same statutory employment rights as other employees. You do not have to work a minimum number of hours to qualify for employment rights.

Changing your hours of work

A change in the number of hours you work can have a large impact on your work-life balance. Sometimes, the operational needs of the company you work for may make it necessary to change the number of hours that your work. Whether you work full time or part time however, any changes your employer wants to make to your employment contract must be agreed with you.

It is possible, if you are a part-time worker and your employer insists that you work full time it could constitute indirect sex discrimination.

Where to get help

For more information on where to get help with employment issues visit the employment contacts page or find out more about trade unions.

Access keys