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January 2, 2024

How Many Hours is Part Time in California (2024 Update)

Legally reviewed by: Jessica Anvar Stotz, JD, MBA

Updated: 3/9/2024

Short answer: According to California law and 10 California employment law firms, part-time hours typically refer to working fewer than 40 hours per week for an employer in CA.

CA Part Time Hours at a Glance

Element of Part-Time Hours California Definition
Hours Per Week Part-time employees typically work fewer than 40 hours per week.
Benefits Eligibility Part-time workers may have limited access to certain employment benefits compared to full-time employees.
Flexible Scheduling Part-time schedules can vary widely, offering flexibility for employees with other commitments or preferences for shorter work hours.
Overtime Part-time employees may still be eligible for overtime pay if they work more than a certain number of hours in a day or week.
Employment Rights Part-time workers are entitled to certain labor rights, such as minimum wage, meal and rest breaks, and protection from discrimination.
Legal Considerations California labor laws provide specific regulations for part-time employment, including wage and hour laws.

Overview of California Labor Laws

California boasts a robust set of labor laws designed to protect the rights and well-being of workers. These laws apply to both full-time and part-time employees. However, the specifics of how these laws affect part-time workers differ based on the number of hours worked and other factors.

Minimum Wage and Part-Time Workers

One important aspect of California labor laws is the minimum wage. As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, the state has been incrementally increasing the minimum wage, reaching $15 per hour for large employers. This rate applies to both full-time and part-time employees, ensuring that part-time workers receive fair compensation for their efforts.

Overtime and Part-Time Employees

In California, overtime rules are designed to prevent employee exploitation. Part-time workers are entitled to overtime pay if they work more than eight hours in a single day or more than 40 hours in a week. Understanding these regulations is essential to avoid labor law violations.

Meal and Rest Break Requirements for Part-Time Workers

Part-time employees in California also benefit from labor laws that mandate meal and rest breaks. For every four hours worked, employees are entitled to a 10-minute rest break and a 30-minute meal break. Understanding these requirements is crucial for both employees and employers to ensure compliance with the law.

Exceptions to California Part Time Laws

Part-time hours in California can differ based on employer policies, industry standards, the specific needs of the job and the law in question. Below are a few laws that state different part time hours. These can apply to employees under certain circumstances in CA.

California Law Less than 40 hours per week
California Labor Market Review 35 hours or less
Affordable Care Act Less than 30 hours

While this information may seem conflicting, employers vary on how they classify employees as part time.

Factors Influencing Part-Time Hours in California

The definition of part-time hours can vary due to several factors, including:

Employer Policies

Different employers may have varying definitions of part-time work, which can affect the number of hours expected from part-time employees.

Industry Standards

The nature of the industry can influence part-time hours. Some industries, such as retail and hospitality, frequently offer part-time positions with flexible schedules, while others may have more rigid standards.

Job Specifics

The specific job role can determine whether it is classified as part-time or full-time. Some positions may be considered part-time even if they require a substantial number of hours.

Seasonal and Temporary Work

Part-time work can also be influenced by seasonal demands. Certain jobs may become part-time during off-peak seasons and full-time during busy periods.

Benefits and Challenges of Part-Time Work in California

Advantages for Employees

  1. Flexibility: Part-time work often allows individuals to balance work with other responsibilities, such as education or caregiving.
  2. Work-Life Balance: Part-time positions can offer improved work-life balance compared to full-time roles.
  3. Opportunities for Multiple Jobs: Some individuals choose part-time work to pursue multiple jobs or passions simultaneously.

Disadvantages for Employees

  1. Limited Benefits: Part-time employees may not have access to the same benefits, such as health insurance and retirement plans, as their full-time counterparts.
  2. Financial Stability: Earning less than full-time workers can pose financial challenges, requiring careful budgeting.

Advantages for Employers

  1. Cost Savings: Employers can save on labor costs by hiring part-time workers, as they often do not provide the same benefits as full-time positions.
  2. Adaptability: Part-time employees can help companies adapt to fluctuating workloads and seasonal demands.

Disadvantages for Employers

  1. Potential for High Turnover: Part-time workers may seek full-time employment elsewhere, potentially leading to higher turnover rates.
  2. Training Costs: Frequent turnover can result in increased training costs for employers.

How Part Time Employees Are Commonly Taken Advantage of

Employers may take advantage of their employees’ status by denying them certain benefits like healthcare, paid time off, or retirement plans that full-time employees receive. Part-time workers may also face reduced pay rates, limited advancement opportunities, and unstable schedules, leading to financial instability.

Additionally, they may be subjected to inconsistent or inadequate training and less legal protection against unfair treatment or wrongful termination. These factors collectively contribute to the vulnerability and potential exploitation of part-time employees in California.

Example Scenarios of Part Time Employees Being Taken Advantage of

Scenario #1

Emma is a part-time employee at a retail store. Despite consistently working 30 hours per week, which is just below the threshold for full-time status, she is denied access to benefits such as health insurance and paid time off that are exclusively offered to full-time employees.

Emma also notices that her hourly wage is significantly lower than that of her full-time counterparts, despite performing the same tasks. Additionally, her schedule is erratic and subject to frequent changes, making it challenging for her to plan personal commitments or secure additional employment.

As a result, Emma faces financial instability, limited access to essential benefits, and an uncertain work-life balance, demonstrating how she is being taken advantage of by her employer as a part-time employee.

Scenario #2

Michael works as a part-time administrative assistant in a corporate office. Despite consistently working 25 hours per week, he is denied access to benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, and paid vacation days that are provided to full-time employees.

Michael also notices that he is excluded from important company-wide meetings and decision-making processes, limiting his professional growth opportunities. Additionally, his workload is often equivalent to that of full-time employees, but he receives a lower hourly rate and is not compensated for working overtime.

This disparity in pay and benefits leaves Michael feeling undervalued and financially strained, indicating how he is being taken advantage of by his employer in the corporate office setting as a part-time employee.

Scenario #3

John is a part-time employee at a clothing store. During the holiday season, the store experiences a surge in customer demand, resulting in increased workload for the staff. John, being reliable and committed, often ends up working more than 40 hours per week to meet the demands.

However, his employer fails to provide him with the legally mandated overtime pay of 1.5 times his regular hourly wage for the extra hours worked. Instead, they only pay him his regular wage, disregarding his entitlement to fair compensation.

Despite his dedication and the additional workload he undertakes, John feels exploited as his employer takes advantage of his part-time status to avoid properly compensating him for the overtime hours he puts in.

how many hours is part time in ca

Benefit Overview for Part Time & Full Time Employees

Employees in California, whether working part-time or full-time, get different benefits when hired as W2 employees and are required to complete W4 forms for withholding purposes. While certain benefits are exclusively offered to full-time workers, others are available to all employees regardless of their working hours.

  • Overtime: Part-time employees in California are entitled to overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours in a week, receiving time-and-a-half for the additional hours worked beyond 40.
  • Vacation pay: While California doesn’t mandate paid time off or vacation pay, employers can choose to offer this benefit to both part-time and full-time employees.
  • Health insurance: Companies with 50 or more full-time employees must provide group health insurance as per the Affordable Care Act. However, part-time workers, defined as those working fewer than 30 hours per week, are typically excluded from this requirement.
  • Unemployment insurance: Part-time and full-time employees are eligible for unemployment compensation through the California Employment Development Department, allowing them to collect benefits for days not worked, even while working part-time.
  • Sick leave: Both part-time and full-time employees in California are eligible for paid sick leave, accruing at a rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked after completing 30 days of employment.
  • Retirement plans: If offered, retirement plans must be extended to both full-time and part-time employees under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

It’s important to note that these benefits can vary depending on the specific policies of employers and applicable laws.

What Can You Do if You’re Being Taken Advantage of as a Part Time Employee in CA

If you’re being taken advantage of as a part-time employee and not receiving fair compensation or benefits, there are several steps you can take:

  1. Know your rights: Familiarize yourself with labor laws and regulations in your jurisdiction, such as minimum wage requirements, overtime rules, and benefits entitlement for part-time employees.
  2. Document the violations: Keep a record of your work hours, tasks performed, and any instances where you were denied fair compensation or benefits. This documentation will serve as evidence to support your claims.
  3. Communicate with your employer: Approach your employer and express your concerns regarding the unfair treatment. Sometimes, they may not be aware of the issue and could rectify it promptly.
  4. Seek legal advice: Consult an employment lawyer who specializes in labor law to understand your rights and explore potential legal actions.
  5. File a complaint: If necessary, file a complaint with the appropriate labor department or employment agency in your jurisdiction. They can investigate the matter and take action against the employer if they find violations.

Remember, seeking legal advice and taking action may have different processes and requirements depending on your jurisdiction, so it’s important to consult with professionals who can guide you based on the specific laws and regulations applicable to your situation.

part time hours in california

Get in Touch with a Lawyer

If you think you are being taken advantage of as a part time employee and your employer is violating California wage and hour law, give us a call today. LawLinq works with some of the best wage and hour attorneys in the state. We’ll get you connected with a top rated attorney in your area and an initial consultation free of charge.

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About the Author

Jessica Anvar

California Consumer Litigation Attorney Jessica Anvar, Esq. is the Founder and Managing Partner of Lemon Law Experts California’s leading lemon law firm. She has multiple years’ worth of experience working with both state and federal lemon laws. Her practice focuses exclusively on consumer protection cases. Ms. Anvar received her J.D. from Loyola Law School. She also earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Loyola Marymount University. Jessica is very active in her local legal community and has helped thousands of clients across the state of California. She has an outstanding record as a true advocate for consumers.

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