Part-time workers make up an important part of many businesses, particularly during busy periods. So, understanding their rights is important to help meet customer demands.
As an employer, you need to understand your legal obligations when it comes to part-time workers. Especially if you want to hire part-time workers in the future.
In this guide, we’ll explain what the difference is between part-time and full-time workers, the law regarding part-time workers, and their employment rights.
What is the Difference between Part-Time and Full-Time Employees?
The main difference between the two is the number of hours worked. Part-time employment is considered under 30 hours a week. However, there is generally no set number of hours for part-time employees; so this can fluctuate weekly.
On the other hand, full-time employment is considered between 37.5-40 hours per week. Full-time workers are guaranteed to receive their hours of work under their contract.
Part-time workers are often students or partially retired individuals seeking additional income and greater flexibility. Many employers hire part-time workers to fill gaps in their business operations. Common examples are:
- Food service.
- Cleaning services.
There is higher employee turnover with part-time workers. For example, students who work part-time often leave after obtaining their degree to look for other careers.
What is the Law Regarding Part-Time Workers?
There is no legal difference between part-time and full-time workers. Neither employment standards legislation nor common law recognizes any difference between the two.
Employers can establish part-time and full-time workers in their business and what kind of additional benefits they receive (e.g. health benefits, car allowance, etc.).
For example, Ontario employment laws for part-time workers are governed by the Employment Standards Act. Other provinces include:
- British Columbia’s Employment Standards Act.
- Alberta’s Employment Standard Code.
- Manitoba’s Employment Standard Code.
- The Saskatchewan Employment Act.
- Newfoundland & Labrador’s Labour Standards Act.
- Nova Scotia’s Labour Standards Code.
- New Brunswick’s Employment Standards Act.
Federally regulated part-time employees are covered under the Canada Labour Code.
A part-time and a full-time worker have the same entitlement to minimum standards that every other employee in Canada has.
How Many Hours do Part-Time Workers Work a Week?
Employers can dictate how many hours part-time workers receive each week. You have no obligation to provide them set hours unless it is stated in the employment contract. For example, an employee can receive 11 hours one week and then 24 hours the next week.
Many part-time workers are students in high school or post-secondary school (e.g. college or university).
As of November 15, 2022, international students can work greater than 20 hours per week. However, employers must consider that this uncapped limit will expire in December 2023, bearing any extension.
Do Part-Time Workers Get Holiday Pay?
Part-Time workers are entitled to holiday pay. Calculating holiday pay for part-time workers is different across provinces and federally.
However, holiday entitlement for part-time workers must meet a certain criterion. For example, an employee must have worked for at least 30 consecutive days to be entitled to holiday pay in British Columbia. Additionally, employees must have earned wages in at least 15 of the last 30 days prior to the holiday.
In Ontario, employees, are entitled to holiday pay no matter when employment started. However, they must have worked the last day before the holiday and the first day after. If not, they do not qualify for holiday pay.
For example, if the employee worked the last day of their shift before the holiday but called in sick for the first shift after, they are not entitled to holiday pay.
Do Part-Time Workers get Sick Pay?
Part-time workers are entitled to sick leave according to employment standards legislation. However, not all employers are required to pay their employees for taking time away from work when they are sick.
Employers in British Columbia and federally regulated workplaces are required to pay an employee sick pay. For example, employees in British Columbia who have worked 90 consecutive days are entitled to five paid sick days per year.
Are Part-Time Employees Entitled to Notice?
Part-time workers are entitled to notice upon termination without cause. Employers must comply with the notice requirements under the employment standards legislation that applies to their workforce.
For example, a part-time worker that has worked for an employer in Alberta for four years is entitled to four weeks’ notice or pay in lieu thereof.
Notice period for part-time workers may also be calculated under common law. The notice period at common law is often substantially greater than statutory notice. It is important that you have a termination clause that complies with employment standards legislation in all employment contracts.
Are Part-Time Employees entitled to Employment Insurance?
Part-time workers are entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) if they meet the following requirements set out by Employment and Social Development Canada:
- Employed under insurable employment.
- Terminated at no fault of their own.
- Have been without pay for at least seven days in the last 52 weeks.
- Worked at least 420 hours in the last 52 weeks.
EI for part-time workers is no different from EI for full-time workers.
Get Advice on Part-Time Workers with BrightHR
It is important to know the rights and entitlements under the law that part-time workers are entitled to. This will ensure that you are following the applicable legislation and rules regarding employment.
If you need assistance with the law regarding part-time workers or even hiring part-time workers, our BrightAdvice service allows you to receive quality advice on any employment issues you may have.