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Understanding Part-Time vs. Full-Time Employment in Australia: A Comprehensive Guide

Published February 21, 2024 (last updated on July 3, 2024) | Adam Wyatt - Content Writer


In the Australian job market, understanding the differences between full-time and part-time employment is crucial for employers and employees. This guide delves into the key distinctions between these two types of employment, including hours worked, entitlements and flexibility, offering insights to help you navigate the workforce challenges effectively. 

The Fair Work Ombudsman defines and describes different types of work, including full-time and part-time employment, as outlined in the Fair Work Act 2009.  

What is full-time employment?  

Full-time employment in Australia is usually based on full-time hours and includes a range of benefits and entitlements.  

  • Full-time hours: Typically, full-time employment in Australia involves working around 38 hours per week. However, this can vary depending on the workplace agreement or award. 

  • Entitlements: Full-time employees are entitled to a range of benefits, including annual leave, sick leave, family and domestic violence leave, and other standard entitlements. 

  • Job security: Generally, full-time roles offer greater job security and a consistent work schedule, which can be crucial for long-term financial planning. 

What is part-time employment? 

Part-time employment means employees work less than 38 hours per week and receive their entitlements on a pro-rata basis.   

  • Part-time hours: For part-time employees in Australia the specific hours worked per week are often agreed upon between the employer and the employee and can vary substantially.  

  • Pro-rata entitlements: While part-time workers receive the same minimum entitlements as full-time employees, these are typically on a pro-rata basis, depending on the hours worked. 

  • Flexibility: Part-time work offers greater flexibility, making it a popular choice for individuals balancing work with other commitments, such as study or family. 

The Key Differences: Full-Time vs. Part-Time 

The key differences between part-time and full-time work in Australia revolve around working hours, entitlements, and commitment.  

Working Hours 

  • Full-time: Typically considered around 38 hours per week, though it can vary by industry, award/agreement, and contract. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) considers 35+ hours full-time. Some full-time employees may work even longer hours depending on their profession. 

  • Part-time: Less than 38 hours per week, usually ranging from a few hours to around 30 hours. Hours tend to be more flexible than full-time. 


  • Full-time: Full-time employees receive the full range of minimum entitlements like annual leave, sick leave, and personal leave, usually pro-rated based on their specific hours. 

  • Part-time: Part-time employees receive the same entitlements as full-time employees but are pro-rated based on their hours worked compared to a full-time equivalent. For example, a part-time employee working 20 hours might receive half the annual leave of a full-time employee. 


  • Full-time: Full-time employment generally requires a higher level of commitment to the organisation and adherence to a fixed schedule. 

  • Part-time: Offers more flexibility in work hours and commitment, making it ideal for those with other obligations or seeking a better work-life balance. 

Other differences 

  • Pay: Full-time positions usually offer higher base salaries, while part-time roles might pay higher hourly rates but lack a consistent income. 

  • Extra benefits: Some employers offer additional benefits like health insurance, which may be more likely for full-time employees. 

  • Career progression: Full-time roles might offer more opportunities for career development and advancement within the organisation. 

Choosing between full-time and part-time work 

The best choice between part-time and full-time depends on your individual needs and priorities, such as income, flexibility, career goals and personal circumstances. 

  • Lifestyle and commitments: Your choice between full-time and part-time work should align with your lifestyle, personal commitments, and career goals. Part-time employees can more easily request flexible working arrangements. 

  • Financial needs: Full-time roles generally offer higher wages and pay due to more hours worked, which is an essential consideration for financial planning. 

  • Career objectives: Consider your long-term career objectives, as full-time roles may offer more opportunities for advancement. 

Managing full-time and part-time staff 

Employers often balance full-time and part-time workers to create a flexible and responsive workforce. The mix of full-time and part-time employees should align with the operational requirements and financial goals of your business. As an employer, here is a few things to consider:  

Employment contracts 

Both full-time and part-time employees require a written employment contract outlining key terms, like pay, duties, leave entitlements and termination clauses. Part-time contracts may also include guaranteed hours and rostering arrangements.  

Pay and wages 

  • Minimum wage: Both full-time and part-time employees are entitled to the National Minimum Wage or relevant Award rates. Check Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) for updates. 

  • Overtime: Full-time and part-time workers are entitled to overtime for work performed outside the ordinary hours listed in an Award, agreement or as specified in the contract of employment. 

  • Casual loading: Casual employees are entitled to a casual loading on top of their hourly rate to compensate for lack of leave entitlements. This is usually 25%, however, an Award or Enterprise Agreement (EA) may stipulate a different amount. 

Hiring and onboarding 

  • Equal opportunity: Uphold equal opportunity principles throughout the recruitment process, ensuring fair consideration for both full-time and part-time candidates. 

  • Induction: Provide a comprehensive induction program for both full-time and part-time staff, regardless of their working hours. This ensures they understand their roles, responsibilities, and company culture. 

  • Flexibility: Consider offering flexible work arrangements like flexible start/finish times, part-time options, or job sharing to attract and retain top talent. 

Annual leave 

The National Employment Standards (NES) states that both full-time and part-time employees are entitled to paid annual leave. 

  • Full-time: Full-time employees are entitled to 4 weeks paid annual leave per year, pro-rata for leave year accrual, though some organisations may offer more. 

  • Part-time: Part-time staff accrue annual leave pro-rata based on their ordinary hours of work. 


Employers must contribute superannuation for all eligible employees, including full-time, part-time and casual staff over the age of 18. For those under 18, super must be paid for employees working more than 30 hours per week. 

Need more guidance? 

Navigating the world of employment compensation can be complex. If you're seeking more information or guidance on choosing between full-time and part-time work, or if you're an employer looking to structure your workforce effectively, professional advice is available. Our team can provide you with the insights and support you need to make the best decisions for your career or business. 

Contact us today for expert advice on full-time and part-time employment in Australia and ensure you make the right choice for your future. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What’s the difference between casual and part-time work?
A: Part-time employees work set hours on a regular basis, often with a contract and guaranteed minimum hours. They accrue leave entitlements like annual leave and personal leave, though usually pro-rata to their work hours. Their pay rate typically matches that of full-time employees without casual loading.
Casual employees, on the other hand, have no guaranteed hours and are employed on a shift-by-shift basis. Casual employment means they are paid a higher hourly rate with casual loading to compensate for the lack of leave entitlements. Their work patterns are irregular, and they can accept, refuse, or swap shifts based on availability.
Q: What are the minimum guaranteed hours for part-time employees in Australia?
A: There is no single minimum guaranteed hour requirement for part-time employees in Australia. It varies depending on several factors, including the individual agreement, Award or Registered Industry Agreement and casual conversions — when a casual employee becomes part-time, they might have specific guaranteed hour entitlements based on their average casual hours in the previous 12 months. 
Q: Can I transition from part-time to full-time work (or vice versa)?

A: Transitioning from part-time to full-time work (or vice versa) is possible in Australia, but the process varies depending on your specific situation and your employer's willingness to accommodate the change. Here's a breakdown of what you need to know.

  • Check your contract: Review your existing employment contract for any provisions for changing your work hours. Some contracts might outline specific procedures or restrictions.      

  • Talk to your employer: Open communication is key. Express your desire to transition hours and discuss potential opportunities within your team or department. Consider the company's current needs and highlight how your contribution could benefit them.

  • Negotiate terms: If your employer is open to the change, discuss the new terms of your employment, including guaranteed hours, salary (if applicable), and any adjustments to other benefits or entitlements. Remember, negotiating your salary in this scenario is perfectly acceptable.

  • Formalise the change: Once mutually agreed upon, get the terms documented in writing through a contract amendment or a new contract altogether. This ensures clarity and protects both parties.
Q: Can part-time workers get casual loading on their wages?
A: Part-time employees in Australia do not receive casual loading on their wages. This is because casual loading is specifically designed to compensate casual employees for the lack of paid leave entitlements such as annual leave, sick leave, and personal leave. Part-time employees, while working fewer hours than full-time employees, still accrue these paid leave entitlements pro-rata to their hours worked.



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