The Complete Guide to Part-Time Jobs

In the UK, many people rely on part time work. Perhaps you’re a student who wants to earn some extra cash, or a parent who needs to fit work around childcare. Maybe you’re retired but still want to keep busy and earn a bit of money to top up your pension, or you might be working full time already but need extra income to cope with the cost of living. Whatever your reasons, there are plenty of opportunities out there.

In this guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about finding and landing a great part time job, including: The different types of part time work available, the benefits of part time work,  how to find the right part time job for you, the best way to apply for part time jobs, and  top tips for making a success of your part time job.

 So, let’s get started…


What is Part-Time Work?


Part time work is any form of employment that entails working fewer hours than a full time week. In the UK, a full time working week is defined as 38 hours, and part time is anything less than 30 hours per week. Most part time opportunities will involve working between 16 and 30 hours each week.

Before looking at some of the specifics of part time work, it would be beneficial to explore definitions of different working patterns so you can differentiate between them:


Fixed Term Contract – A fixed term contract means that there is a contract of employment between you and your employer and your employment ends on a given date. This type of contract can be issued to both full time and part time workers. 

Zero Hours Contract Employment - A zero hours contract is an agreement between an employer and employee, whereby the employer is not obliged to provide the employee with a set number of hours each week, but the employee must be available to work when called upon. This type of contract is often used by employers in seasonal businesses or those who require a high level of flexibility from their staff.


Casual Employment - Casual employment is defined as working on an irregular basis, with no guarantee of set hours each week. This could be anything from filling in for somebody who is ill, to working a few hours each week on an ad-hoc basis.

Temporary Employment - This is a form of employment that is brought in to cover a specific role for a set period of time. This could be due to an increase in workload, or to cover somebody who is on leave. The duration of temporary employment can vary, but it is usually agreed upfront.


Any of the above can apply to part time work. You have the same rights and responsibilities as a full time employee, and you are protected under the same employee legislation.


The Benefits of Part-Time Work


Part time work can offer lots of benefits, both in terms of your career and your personal life. Here are just a few of the reasons why part time work could be a good fit for you:


1. It can be a great way to top up your income


Maybe you are already working full time, but the pay just isn’t enough to make ends meet. You can earn additional income if you work part time. Freelance work is particularly effective in this instance because you can work flexibly around your full time hours. Or, if working from home is not for you, you may decide to take evening or weekend work in a café, restaurant or bar. Part time work is often more flexible than full time, so there are options to fit in your work around your commitments.


2. It can give you the opportunity to try something new


If you’re looking for a career change but don’t want to take the plunge into something completely new, then taking on a part time job in your desired field could be the perfect solution. This will allow you to get a taste of what the role entails and decide whether it’s the right fit for you, without having to commit to a full time position.


3. It can help you to gain new skills and experience


Part time work can be beneficial in the development of your skills or to give your CV a boost. If you’re looking to progress in your career, then taking on a part time job that is relevant to your field could be the perfect way to gain the experience and skills that you need. This is particularly helpful if you are hoping to change careers in the future but need to bank some experience in your new field.


4. It can provide a better work/life balance


For many people, one of the biggest reasons for wanting to work part time is to achieve a better work/life balance. If you’re finding that your full time job is impacting your personal life, then working fewer hours could be the perfect solution. This could allow you to spend more time with your family, pursue a hobby or simply enjoy some down time. Depending on the choice you make, in certain careers, you can make just as much working part time as you can working full time.


5. It can be more flexible around your commitments


If you have other commitments outside of work, such as caring for a family member or studying for a qualification, then a part time job could be more suited to your needs. This is because it can offer greater flexibility in terms of the hours that you work, which can make it easier to fit everything into your schedule.



The Drawbacks of Part-Time Work


While there are countless benefits associated with part time work, it also has its downsides which are worthy of consideration. Here are a few things to consider:


1. You may have to work unsociable hours


One of the main disadvantages of part time work is that you may have to work unsociable hours. This could include evenings, weekends or even overnight shifts. If you’re not willing to work these types of hours, then part time work may not be suited to you. If you already have another job, this could start to affect your wellbeing.


2. You may not be eligible for certain benefits


If you’re working part time, then you may not be eligible for certain benefits that are available to full time employees. This could include things like company pension schemes, health insurance or other advantages. It’s important to check what benefits you’re entitled to before taking on a part time role.


3. You may have less job security


Another potential drawback of part time work is that you may have less job security than you would in a full time role. This is because part time employees are often the first to be made redundant during tough economic times. If job security is important to you, then you may want to think twice about taking on a part time role.


4. You may earn less money


Part time work often comes with a lower salary than full time work. This is because you’re working fewer hours, so your employer doesn’t have to pay you as much. If you’re looking to boost your income significantly, then part time work may not be the best option in the short term.


5. You may struggle to advance in your career


If you’re looking to progress in your career, then part time work could hold you back. This is because it can be difficult to move up the ladder when you’re only working a few hours each week. If you’re hoping to climb the career ladder, then you may be better off in a full time role. Sometimes, part time workers miss out on training events or development opportunities that run on the days you don’t work.


These are just a few of the potential drawbacks of part time work. Now that you’re aware of both the advantages and disadvantages, we will guide you through some of the different types of part time jobs and where to find them.


What are the Different Types of Part-Time Work?


Luckily, part time work can be found in almost every industry and job type. To find the ideal option will depend on your skills, career goals and the type of work you like to do. As a starting point, here are some ideas to give you inspiration.


Retail – The retail sector is huge. As well as working on the shop floor, there are also part time opportunities in logistics and warehousing. Shops, supermarkets and independent stores are all sources of opportunity.


Hospitality – A sector where there is always demand for staff. Restaurants, cafes, hotels and bars all invite applications from candidates looking to venture into the hospitality sector.  


Administration – Businesses need good support teams around them to ensure the smooth day to day operations of the company. Administration jobs could include those in customer service, accounting, telemarketing and general business support.


Care work – There is always a high demand for part time carers, whether that’s in a nursing home, hospital, or people’s homes. As the older population continues to expand, there is a need for skilled, compassionate and quality focused care workers.


Freelancing - With the rise of the internet, there are now more opportunities than ever before to freelance and work from home. You may want to put your talents to good use and start an online business or buy and sell items online. The opportunities for part time freelance work are endless.


These are just a few examples of the types of part time work that are available. The best way to find something that suits you is to browse online jobs boards to see if there any opportunities that seem appealing.


How to Find Part-Time Jobs


There are many places that you can use to find part time jobs in your local area or home based if you prefer. Some of the most popular include:


Job Boards - These platforms bring together employers and job seekers so you can browse through thousands of part time roles all in one place. Many also have search filters so you can get really specific on what types of vacancy to show you.


Company Websites - If you have a particular company in mind that you’d like to work for, then you can check their website for any part time vacancies. Many employers will advertise roles on their own website before anywhere else. Sometimes, a company may have an open application policy where you can submit your CV anytime, even if there are no vacancies.


Recruitment Agencies - There are also many recruitment agencies that deal exclusively with part time work. They can be a great way to find roles that match your skills and requirements


Social Media - Websites such as LinkedIn and Twitter can also be useful for finding part time jobs. Many employers now use social media to advertise vacancies, so it’s worth keeping an eye on your feeds


Career Progression and Professional Development in Part Time Work


Although it can be more difficult to progress in your career when you’re working part time, it is still possible to achieve your development goals. Ways to do this include:


Taking on additional responsibilities – There may be opportunities to take on new tasks and responsibilities, perhaps if an employee has left and the employer has decided not to recruit to fill their vacancy, or you may want to ask if you can participate in a senior project to advance your skills and expertise.


Attending training courses – Most employers will have training and development opportunities open for employees. Participate in training to learn something new, improve your knowledge in your field or self-study towards a new qualification.


Doing research - Keep up to date with the latest trends in your industry which can also be beneficial. This means that you’ll be able to add value to your company and could improve your chances of being promoted. Be willing to show you have done your research with new ideas and creativity.

Most importantly, working part time doesn’t have to mean sacrificing your career goals.


Rights and Entitlements of Part-Time Workers


As a part time worker, you’re entitled to the same rights and entitlements as full time employees.


This includes things like:


Minimum wage – All employees are entitled to be paid at least the national minimum wage, regardless of your age or how many hours you work


Holiday entitlement – You are also entitled to paid holidays, which increase with the number of hours you work. For example, if you work 20 hours per week, you’re entitled to 132 hours of paid holiday per year


Sick pay – Depending on your contract, you may also be entitled to sick pay, depending on your company’s policy and how many hours you work. Statutory sick pay is currently £99.35 per week


Pension – Employees are entitled to be enrolled in your company’s pension scheme, if they offer one. This includes things like the government’s auto-enrolment scheme


Flexible working - If you have been with your company for 26 consecutive weeks, you have the right to request flexible working hours. This includes things like working from home or changing your hours to fit around childcare, maternity, paternity and adoption leave.


Learning and Development – As an employee you also have a right to learning and development opportunities in your role. This includes things like training courses, mentoring and Shadowing


Working part time doesn’t mean that you must sacrifice your rights as an employee. You’re still entitled to the same things as full time workers, so it’s important to be aware of your entitlements.


How to Find the Right Part-Time Job For You


Part time work can be found in almost every industry. Consider the following as you explore your options:


Skills- What skills do you have that could be transferable to a part time role?  Experience - What experience do you have that would be beneficial in a part time role?  Interests – Things you are interested in and how could this help you to find a part time job?


There are many different types of part time jobs available, so it’s important to think about what you want from a role before you start your job search such as:


Hours - How many hours per week are you looking to work?


Income - Think about what minimum income you need to support yourself and/or your family.


Location - This is quite an important one. You don't want to find part time work very far from home, otherwise you will spend most of your income on commuting.


Type of work - Explore different types of work. What do you really want to do? What career choices would make you feel most fulfilled and content with your work.


Benefits - What does the ideal workplace look like to you? Working from home, an office based role or something that combines the two?


When you know what you want from your part time work, it’s much easier to find the right part time job for you.