FAQ: Do Part-Time Employees Get Vacation Time?

Updated March 10, 2023

Some employers offer certain benefits to part-time employees, like paid vacation days and health insurance. Other employers offer different benefits for part-time employees based on the industry they're in. If you're thinking about getting a part-time job, you may want to consider whether you'll get vacation time and other benefits. In this article, we discuss whether part-time employees earn paid vacation time and answer other frequently asked questions about part-time employment and benefits.

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What is a part-time employee?

A part-time employee is an individual who works less than a full-time schedule as outlined by the employer. Many employers consider a part-time schedule as anything less than 40 hours per week. However, some employers count 30 hours per week as a full-time schedule. For example, one employer may consider employees who work 36 hours or fewer to be part time, while another employer may require that an employee work at between 20 and 32 hours to be part time.

Government agencies have different definitions for part time and full time as well. These agencies use these numbers to gather employment statistics and determine eligibility for certain benefits. The IRS counts anyone who works less than 30 hours as a part-time employee. The BLS counts anyone who works less than 34 hours a week as a part-time employee.

What are benefits?

A benefit provides non-compensated value for an employee. Here is a list of some benefits part-time employees may receive:

  • Healthcare insurance

  • Dental insurance

  • Vision insurance

  • Disability

  • Life insurance

  • Tuition reimbursement

  • Cell phone reimbursement

  • Gas or travel allowance

  • Paid time off

  • Retirement plans

  • Flexible work schedule

  • Child care assistance

Employers usually list the types of benefits you'll receive as an employee in your offer letter, so it's helpful to carefully review your offer and ensure it meets your needs.

Do part-time employees get vacation time?

Employers can decide whether to offer paid vacation days to part-time employees. If they do offer paid time off to part-time employees, they usually outline the following guidelines:

  • How much vacation time employees get

  • When they're eligible for vacation time

  • How much advance time the employee needs to give before taking time off

Some employers may offer additional paid time off for health-related reasons, like sick days, or for reasons involving family, such as the birth of a child. Sometimes companies do not differentiate between the type of paid time off and offer it as one set sum. For example, a part-time employee could receive 24 hours of paid time off per year. If the employee calls in sick for a four-hour shift, they would have 20 hours of PTO left. If the employee schedules a vacation day for a four-hour shift following the sick day, they would have 16 hours of PTO left.

Some employers offer paid vacation days on an accrual basis. For example, an employee may earn three hours of paid time off for every 40 hours they work. Another paid leave policy that some employers adopt includes offering a set number of paid days off based on how many years worked. For example, five years of service could amount to 15 paid days off per year.

If a business does not want to extend paid time off to part-time employees, they may decide to offer unpaid vacation instead. With unpaid time off, employees can take days off without receiving pay. Employers could also offer part-time employees paid time off and allow them to take unpaid time off when they no longer have PTO left. You can usually find your employer's PTO/UTO policy in your employee handbook, or you can ask your manager or HR rep if you need to extend your time off for a certain circumstance.

Related: Guide to Working on Holidays: Standard Paid Holidays, Extra Pay and Benefits of Holiday Work

Do part-time employees receive benefits?

There are no specific guidelines on whether part-time employees should receive benefits. Employers can make their own policies and decide what to provide based on company budgets, number of employees and even location. Some employers require employees to work a certain number of days before receiving any benefits. For example, some employers expect employees to work 90 days before offering benefits.

Another benefit a part-time employee may receive is unemployment. Depending on how the employee left the position and the tenure of their employment, employers may offer unemployment assistance. Unemployment policies and requirements vary by state, so you can determine your state's policies by visiting your state's government website.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About Part-Time Employee Benefits

What benefits can part-time employees expect?

Benefits vary by company. Many companies offer different types of benefits based on the products and services they provide. For example, a fitness center could offer free or discounted memberships to part-time employees. Restaurant servers could receive a free meal during their shift, or a retail employee could get a store discount. Part-time employees could also receive basic benefits, like vacation time and health insurance, in addition to company specific benefits.

Are part-time employees eligible for health insurance?

Part-time employees can be eligible for health insurance if their employer includes it in their benefits guidelines. In some cases, employers offer different plans for part-time employees and full-time employees. Part-time employees should ask the hiring manager or human resources professional about benefits packages if they need health insurance.

Related: 10 Companies That Offer Part-Time Jobs With Benefits

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Do part-time employees receive holiday pay?

Part-time employees could receive holiday pay, but there is no government mandate that requires it. Employers can decide what holiday pay to offer, if any. They may decide to offer full-time employees holiday pay and provide a prorated amount to part-time employees. While employers do not have to offer holiday pay to employees, many companies use this benefit to increase employee satisfaction and boost retention. Some businesses are closed for specific holidays, so you can ask your employer which holidays to expect pay for, or you could check the company calendar.

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