An increasing amount of South Africans are abandoning the traditional 9-5 workday model in favor of a more flexible part-time position. Both options have their pros and cons, so the decision is often unique to the employee’s situation.
Serr Synergy states that a full-time employee is “an employee who is remunerated wholly or partly by reference to the time that the employee works and who is identifiable as a full-time employee in terms of the customs and practice of the employer of that employee.
By comparison, a part-time employee “will work fewer hours than a full-time employee and will be remunerated wholly or partly for the number of hours worked”.
To clarify, whereas a full-time employee typically works an average of 30-40 hours a week and typically receives a steady income, a part-time employee will work a minimum of 20 hours a week and may not be entitled to the same benefits as their full-time coworkers.
Here is how the two positions differ -
Full-time workers -
- Receive a steady income
- Often receive health benefits and a retirement plan
- Receive more Paid Time Off (PTO) in the form of sick leave, maternity and paternity leave, family responsibility, and annual leave.
- Are more likely to be promoted
- Follow a fixed schedule
- Are protected by South Africa's Labour Relations Act (LRA) - Section 198C
Part-time workers -
- Have more free time
- Have flexible workloads
- Improved management skills
- Also protected by South Africa's Labour Relations Act (LRA) - Section 198C
- Usually has access to the same training, development, and employment opportunities as their full-time coworkers.
- Enjoy fewer workplace responsibilities
Part-time employment falls into these four categories:
Substantial part-time: 21 - 34 hours per week
Short part-time: 20 hours of less
Marginal part-time: less than 15 hours per week
On-call work: work hours vary and are often unpredictable
Deciding between a Full-time and Part-time position
Choosing between a full-time and part-time position shouldn’t be taken lightly. Both options call for a very specific set of skills and self-discipline.
Here’s how you can choose the most suitable option.
Work Full-time if -
- You need a steady income
- You have someone who takes care of the household tasks
- You have monthly expenses such as rent, school fees, utilities, etc.
- You can manage your time well
- You have high-stress tolerance levels
- You are able to commute to an office every day
Work part-time if -
- You’re a student looking for an additional income
- Your current income doesn’t cover all your monthly expenses
- You want more free time
- You can afford a decrease in income
- You have personal responsibilities
- You want a better work-family balance
- You are a college graduate looking for relevant work experience
- You want to learn a new skill
Wedged between these two positions is the freelancer and the temporary worker. Temporary employees are hired for a predetermined amount of time. These workers usually act as temporary replacements for absent full-time employees and are employed for a maximum of 3 months.
Freelance workers are considered “self-employed” and aren’t limited to one ‘employer’; freelancers work for multiple clients and receive payment from each.
In the end, when choosing between a full-time and part-time position, the decision should be made based on the individual’s personal preferences, responsibilities, availability, financial situation.