Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Fact Sheet Part-Time Employment

Fact Sheet Part-Time Employment

PDF Version



Part-time employment is considered to be regularly scheduled work from 16 to 32 hours per week (or between 32 and 64 hours per pay period in the case of a flexible or compressed work schedule). These hour limitations apply to employees serving on permanent appointments, i.e., appointments without time limits. This includes career and career-conditional appointments in the competitive service and equivalent appointments in the excepted service, e.g., Pathways Career Interns, Veteran Recruitment Appointments, etc.

The minimum hour requirement described above (i.e., 16 hours per week) does not apply to part-time work schedules when an employee is serving on an appointment with a time limit in the competitive or excepted service, e.g., temporary, term, temporary intern, field assistant, etc.

Only in very rare circumstances can approval be granted for a permanent employee to work less than 16 hours per week. Exceptions may only be granted when it is necessary to carry out the mission of the agency and is not for the convenience of the employee.

Employees working part-time work schedules, regardless of appointment type, cannot work more than 32 hours per week. The only exception applies to part-time employees who were already working more than 32 but less than 40 hours per week prior to April 8, 1979, when the regulations changed. Those individuals were grandfathered in and allowed to continue working their established schedule but if they make a change to their work schedule and later want to change back to part-time, the 16-32 hour limitation applies.

Employees working part-time hours cannot choose to have an official work schedule of full-time and take leave-without-pay to cover the difference between 40 hours per week and the hours they’re actually working.



Part-time employees serving on permanent appointments or time limited appointments with an initial not-to-exceed date of at least 13 months are eligible, on a prorated basis, for the same benefits as full-time employees such as leave accrual as well as retirement, health, and life insurance coverage. The dental, vision, Flexible Spending Account, and Federal Long Term Care Insurance programs are not affected by work schedule as they are fixed dollar amounts with no government contribution.

Employees who are considering changing from a full-time to a part-time work schedule are encouraged to reference information here on the potential impact to benefits coverage and to contact their servicing Benefits Specialist with questions.

Questions regarding the Federal Employees Health Benefit (FEHB) Modification and temporary,

intermittent, and seasonal employees eligible for FEHB under this rule, should consult their

servicing Benefits Specialist.


Holiday Pay

A part-time employee is entitled to be paid for a holiday when the holiday falls on a day when he or she would otherwise be required to work or take leave. This does not include overtime work. Part-time employees who are excused from work on a holiday receive their rate of basic pay for the hours they are regularly scheduled to work on that day. Employees must be in a pay status or a paid time off status (i.e., leave, compensatory time off, compensatory time off for travel, or credit hours) on their scheduled workdays either before or after a holiday in order to be entitled to their regular pay for that day. Employees who are in a non-pay status for the workdays immediately before and after a holiday may not receive compensation for that holiday.



In a reduction in force (RIF), part-time employees compete separately from full-time employees. A part-time employee can compete only for other part-time jobs and has no assignment rights to full-time positions. Similarly, a full-time employee has assignment rights only to full-time positions and cannot displace a part-time employee.


Adverse and Performance-based Actions

Part-time employees have the same rights as full-time employees when disciplinary actions or performance-based actions are taken against them. Adverse and/or performance-based actions include suspensions, removals, furloughs, and reductions in grade.


Service Credit

A part-time employee earns a full year of service for each calendar year worked (regardless of work schedule) for the purpose of computing dates for: retirement eligibility, career tenure, completion of probationary period, within-grade pay increases, change in leave category, and time-in-grade requirements for advancement to the next higher grade level. Part-time work is prorated when crediting experience for meeting qualification requirements. For example, an employee working 20 hours per week for a 12-month period is credited with 6 months of experience toward meeting qualification requirements.


Work Schedule Changes

An employee may request to change their work schedule from full-time to part-time or vice versa with supervisory approval.

When an employee’s work schedule needs to be adjusted temporarily (1 pay period or less), no personnel action needs to be processed. When an employee who is already working a part-time work schedule needs to adjust the number of hours they’re working temporarily (2 pay periods or less), no personnel action needs to be processed (e.g., a career intern who usually works part-time hours wants to work additional hours during his/her holiday break, etc.). If an employee’s work schedule needs to be adjusted for a longer period of time, an official personnel action should be processed to reflect the change.

A management initiated change from a full-time to a part-time work schedule because of lack of work or lack of funds requires the application of reduction-in-force (RIF) regulations. This means that the manager/supervisor has to work with their servicing Staffing/Classification Specialist to follow the process for obtaining RIF approval in order to change the work schedule.

A reduction in the number of scheduled hours within a part-time tour of duty (e.g., reducing number of hours worked per week from 20 to 16), is not considered to be a RIF action.



--Regulations: 5 CFR Part 340, Other Than Full-Time Career Employment (Part-Time, Seasonal, On-Call, and Intermittent)

--OPM Information:


« Return to Helpful Links