Part-Time Schedules

Employees considering a part-time work arrangement should evaluate the pros and cons.

A reduced schedule often comes with personal advantages, such as more free time and increased flexibility. But for some employees, working part-time may pose challenges, including the loss of income or possible impact on job assignments or speed of career advancement. In addition, business needs sometimes cannot be met with part-time employees.

What is Considered Part-Time?

At MIT, salaried (exempt) staff are presumed to work at least 40 hours per week, and a regular schedule less than 40 hours is considered part-time. For support staff, part-time work is defined as an arrangement that requires less than 35 hours per week.

Examples include: three or four 8-hour workdays per week; five 4-to-6–hour workdays per week; or two 10-hour workdays per week. Employees working 50% or more of a regular full-time work schedule are entitled to employee benefits; for hourly paid staff, that standard is met if they work at least 17.5 hours per week. Visit the Benefits website for additional details on benefits eligibility.

Employees should discuss questions or concerns with their supervisors to determine if a part-time work arrangement is the right option.

Potential Benefits of Part-Time Hours

  • Provides more time for personal responsibilities.
  • Provides flexibility to alter the schedule in response to home or work demands.
  • Can reduce absenteeism and tardiness.
  • Often enhances the employee’s morale, productivity, and commitment.
  • May facilitate recruitment and/or retention.
  • May allow the employer to reduce costs without reducing staff.
  • Can be used for phased-in retirement to reduce the employee’s hours over time and train his or her replacement.
  • May create growth opportunities for other employees on the team.

Potential Challenges of Part-Time Hours

  • Reduced income and reduction in pay-based benefits, such as retirement plan benefits based on pay.
  • The task of reassigning some of the employee's job responsibilities.
  • Employee may be viewed as less committed by colleagues or manager/supervisor.
  • May slow down the time to complete work assignments.
  • Possible impact on job assignments or speed of career advancement.
  • May cause understaffing at times.
  • May create scheduling difficulties.


An employee's proposal for a regular part-time arrangement should include:

  • The work responsibilities that will be accomplished during reduced hours.
  • How the rest of the employee's work will be handled by other staff or departments.
  • How performance will be evaluated and the employee's goals.
  • The impact on future opportunities, such as career advancement or the ability to increase hours in the future.

Learn more about developing a proposal.

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