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Full Time and Part Time Employees: The Difference (2021 Update)

Full Time and Part Time Employees: The Difference (2021 Update)

Want to hire employees? Read this article to find out the differences between full time and part time employment and what your obligations will be.

26th February 2021
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Do you run a small business and are considering hiring employees? Or are you an employee just trying to figure out what you deserve under Australian law? In both situations, entitlements for part time and full time employees vary significantly and it’s important to know which ones apply. This article will discuss the difference between part time and full time employees. Whether you’re trying to determine on what basis you’ll hire someone, or what rights you have as an employee – this guide will provide the answers.

Table of Contents

  • The Different Types of Employment
  • What Benefits Are Associated With Each Employment Type
  • How Are Part Time & Full Time Employees Dismissed?
  • Is It Possible To Change The Working Hours of These Employees
  • Article Summary

Defining types of work

The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) provides the definition for the different types of employment. Employment type is based on the ordinary hours of work performed per week. A full time employee works around 38 hours per week. A part time employee usually works less than that, with flexible agreements depending on the employer. These hours do not include additional hours.

In contrast to casual employment, both types of employee have guaranteed hours of work. This is often set out in an employment contract but can also be found under national regulations. They are also provided with the certainty of ongoing work.

Casual employees by contrast, do not have the ongoing certainty of work and work fluctuating hours. If you want more information on casual employment, have a look at our guide on what is a casual employee?.

What do employees get?

The National Employment Standards (NES) set out the minimum standards that apply to employees. Under this, both types of employees can receive NES entitlements relating to:

  • Maximum weekly hours
  • Requests for flexible working arrangements
  • Parental leave and related entitlements
  • Annual leave
  • Personal carers leave and compassionate leave
  • Community service leave
  • Long service leave
  • Public holidays
  • Notice of termination and redundancy pay
  • The Fair Work Information Statement

The key difference between these types of employment is that full time employees receive the full range of listed minimum entitlements. However, part time employees receive a reduced fraction of minimum entitlements, such as sick leave, on a pro-rata basis, or based on how many hours they work each week.

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How are full time and part time employees dismissed?

The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) provides that the employer must provide written notice of termination to the employee. This notice must be provided within a specified period of time, depending on how long they have worked with the company and clearly state the last day of work.

The Fair Work Ombudsman outlines these time periods with depth. For instance, part time and full time employees who have been working for under a year require only 1 weeks notice before dismissal.

Unlike casual employees, full and part time employees cannot be made redundant without notice. For more information on employee redundancy, have a read of our guide on genuine redundancy and the employer requirements when dismissing a full or part time employee.

Changing working hours

If an employee is in full or part time employment, it’s possible to change if both parties agree. If the employee would like to change from full time to casual, the employment agreement is terminated. Similarly, a new casual agreement will replace it. This termination must follow the rules of providing written notice and paying out entitlements such as annual leave.

If the employee does not agree to change employment, an employer may be able to change the terms of the employment without consent. However, this depends on the terms of the agreement. It is important in this case to seek legal advice first.

Article Summary

  • Full-Time Employee: An employee that works over 38 hours a week and receives the full range of employee benefits under the NES
  • Part-Time Employee: An employee that works under 38 hours a week and receives a pro-rata rate of employee benefits under the NES, according to the total amount of hours they work

In summary, the primary difference lies in the working hours of an employee set out in their employment agreement. Full time employees provide structure and stability to your business. On the other hand, part time employees, while working less hours, provide flexibility of labour. Whichever one you choose, it’s important to comply with National Employment Standards and have a contract in place..

If you would like an existing agreement reviewed or more information on employment, it may be worth getting in touch with an employment lawyer.

Don’t know where to start? Contact us on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest lawyer marketplace.

Richard Yuen
Richard Yuen

Richard is a Paralegal working in our content team which aims to provide free legal guides to facilitate public access to legal resources. With an interest in information law, his primary focus is in how the law adapts to govern the use and development of new technology in a modern environment.