How to Write a Letter Requesting Part-Time Hours

by Lisa McQuerrey

If you decide a full workload is more than you're looking for -- because you need to spend more time with your kids, or for some other reason -- a detailed written proposal to your employer can help you navigate your way to a part-time schedule. Take into consideration the responsibilities you currently handle and how your existing workload can be redistributed as you move to fewer hours.

Address the letter to your immediate supervisor. Even if the decision will ultimately be made by someone higher up on the chain of command, launch your request by going through the appropriate channels. Write a formal business letter or use a memo format.

State your request for reduced hours. Be specific by listing the days and hours you want to work each week. If you're flexible, just note the total number of hours you want to work each week. Also, let your supervisor know if you envision this being a permanent schedule or temporary one. If you intend to return to a full-time schedule in the future, indicate when you plan to do so.

Explain the reason for your request, if it's something you're comfortable sharing with your employer. If you’re going back to school, want to spend more time with your family or have other personal matters that require the change, tell your boss if you think it will help you make your case for reduced hours. Some bosses might require an explanation to accommodate a part-time schedule.

Describe the aspects of your job you want to retain and what responsibilities would be left to someone else. If you're proposing job-sharing or redistributing the responsibilities of a full-time position, describe how you envision your reduced hours impacting the office and propose alternatives or solutions, if you have any. Let your boss know you will do your best to ensure the transition to fewer hours goes smoothly.


  • If you have a good relationship with your boss, talk to him in person and use the letter as a formal request for documentation purposes. This gives you more time discuss your responsibilities under a part-time schedule, how the company can make up for the hours you won't be working, and what you can do to make the transition as smooth as possible. Leave the official letter with your boss so he can review your proposal and mull over the possibilities.
  • Talk to your human resources department about how a change in hours could impact your pay and benefits. If you’re currently a salaried employee, going to a part-time schedule might mean a transition to an hourly pay rate. It also could eliminate things like healthcare coverage and retirement planning. Know in advance what ramifications your move could have.


  • If you work an hourly job, a reduction in hours is not likely to have a serious impact on your employer. If you hold a high-ranking management position, however, or are responsible for multiple operational aspects of the business, your boss might have a tougher time envisioning you in anything less than a full-time role. If reducing your hours is not possible, inquire about the potential of working as a consultant or independent contractor.

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