Part-time employees

Part-time employees work less than 38 hours per week and their hours are usually regular each week. They're usually employed on a permanent basis or on a fixed term contract.

What part-time employees get

Part-time employees get the same minimum entitlements (such as sick leave and annual leave) as a full-time employee, but on a pro-rata basis.

Example: Sick and carer's leave entitlements for part­-time employees

Suzanne is a full-time employee who works 38 hours, 5 days a week. Rebecca is a part-time employee who works an average of 19 hours per week, working a 5-day fortnight. Suzanne gets 76 hours (or 10 days) of paid sick and carer's leave per year. Rebecca gets half of Suzanne’s paid sick and carer's leave per year as she works half the hours Suzanne works.

How part-time is different to full-time or casual employment

Full-time employees work longer hours. On average, they work 38 hours per week.

Casual employees usually work irregular hours. A casual employee does not have a firm commitment in advance from their employer to ongoing work with an agreed pattern of work.

Find information about changing from part-time to casual employment.

Part-time hours of work agreements

Many awards, enterprise agreements and other registered agreements have record-keeping arrangements for part-time employees about their hours of work.

Find information about hours of work arrangements for part-time employees in your award by selecting from the list below.

Retail Award

Based on what you've told us, it looks like you're covered by the General Retail Industry Award [MA000004].

Changes to part-time hours in the Retail Award

On 28 June 2021, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) handed down a decision to vary the provisions for part-time hours of work in the Retail Award. These changes will take effect from the first full pay period that starts on or after 1 July 2021.

We are reviewing the information on this page and will be making updates to reflect these changes.

For more information see the full FWC decision external-icon.png.

A part-time employee is employed to work less than 38 ordinary hours per week, with hours of work that are reasonably predictable.

An employer and employee have to agree on a 'regular pattern of work' when the employee starts.

The agreement on a regular pattern of work has to  include:

  • the hours worked on each particular day of the week (the ‘guaranteed hours’)
  • the start and finish times each day
  • the times and length of meal breaks.

An agreement has to be recorded in writing, which can include:

  • an exchange of emails
  • text messages, or
  • other electronic means.

The employer has to keep a copy of the agreement and give a copy to the employee if they request it.

The hours in the agreement have to be within the ordinary hours in the award. This includes the times of day ordinary hours can be worked and the maximum and minimum ordinary hours of work. For information about ordinary hours, including in this award, go to Hours of work.

For any time worked over a part-time employee’s ‘guaranteed hours’, the employee must be paid overtime.

You can use our Part-time hours of work agreement and variation (DOC 91KB) template to record part-time hours of work. 

When can a part-time employee’s hours be changed? 

A part-time employees regular pattern of work can be changed if the employer and employee agree to it in writing. The changes can be temporary or ongoing.

An agreement has to be recorded in writing:

  • before the end of a shift an employee is working (if the change is for only that shift), or
  • in other cases, before the change takes effect.

Recording the agreement in writing can include:

  • an exchange of emails
  • text messages, or
  • other electronic means.

The employer has to keep a copy of the agreement and give a copy to the employee if they request it.

An employee’s regular pattern of work, other than the employee’s ‘guaranteed hours’, can be changed by an employer without agreement if they give 7 days notice in writing, or 48 hours in an emergency. This applies to start and finish times and the timing of meal breaks, but not the number of hours worked on each day of the week. The employer has to also comply with rules in the award about rostering and consultation about roster changes.

An employee’s regular pattern of work can’t be changed from week to week or fortnight to fortnight, or to avoid any award entitlements.

For further information about when a roster can be changed, including under this award, go to Rosters.

You can use our Part-time hours of work agreement and variation (DOC 91KB) template to record changes to part-time hours of work. 

What happens if a part-time employee regularly works more than their guaranteed hours?

If an employee has regularly worked more than their guaranteed hours in the last 12 months, they can request an increase to their guaranteed hours on an ongoing basis to reflect the hours they’ve been working.

Requests have to be made in writing and can only be made once every 12 months.

An employer has to respond in writing in 21 days and can only refuse on reasonable business grounds.

When can an employee change to part-time?

An employee might want to go part-time, either for a short amount of time or permanently. The employer and employee should agree in writing to the change to part-time employment.

An employer can’t make a person change from full-time to part-time employment. If an employer does this, it may be a redundancy. For more information on what a redundancy is, go to Redundancy.

What happens to leave entitlements when changing to part-time?

When an employee changes from full-time to part-time, they keep any leave they have accumulated, such as annual leave or sick leave.

To find out more about who this award applies to, go to the Retail Award summary.

Source reference: General Retail Industry Award [MA000004] clause 10 external-icon.png

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