Temporary/variable hour employees

Who are considered variable hour employees?

Variable hour employees are employees who primarily work in temporary non-benefit eligible positions.  Temporary positions are those positions not intended to continue indefinitely or whose hours vary and are not positions that offer benefits.

Temporary positions may be filled by employees that are classified in a wide range of variable hour employment categories, including student employment, graduate assistantship, temporary hourly/salaried employment and part-time faculty.  For more characteristics of a variable hour employee, please click on the link below:

Other characteristics of variable hour employee:
  •  Flexible hours - works sporadic hours (on call, seasonal, or filling as needed).
  • Works a standard schedule for a shot duration and varied (tied to a project, to a specific time period, to cover for a vacant position, etc.).
  • May be funded from temporary salary savings.
  • Job may end at any time, at the supervisor's discretion.
  • Worker may be employed by a temporary hiring service and assigned to NAU, with Human Resources review.
  • Ease of hiring process - may be hired non-competitively.
  • Tied to Arizona State Retirement System 20/20 participation rule.
  • Paid on an hourly basis and eligible for overtime pay if physically works more than 40 hours.
  • Not eligible for compensatory time in lieu of overtime.
  • Not eligible for benefits.
  • Hold multiple positions.
  • Engage in the university community and culture.
  • Opportunity to gain a permanent employment.
  • gain valuable work experience for a related field of study.

What is the intent?

If the intent is for your employee to work 30 hours or more for an extended period of time, according to the benefit eligibility rules, they are entitled to benefits from the start of their employment.  If you have employed someone with this intent, please contact your Employment and Comp Analyst to discuss a method to resolve this employment arrangement. (i.e, create a benefit eligible position, or reduce the hours worked with your current employee.)

If you know that your employee will not be working for several weeks (3 pay periods or more) please terminate their employment.  Remember, a new hiring packet is not required for an employee with less than a 6 month break in service, so rehiring them should be fairly easy, and will make your tracking of hours worked for employees much simpler.  Terminating inactive employees is extremely helpful to HR as we track  the hours for all variable hour employees at NAU.

Regular benefit eligible to variable hour status

When a regular full-time benefit eligible employee separates from employment (resigns, retires, layoff, etc.) and then is rehired into a variable hour position (part-time temporary or part-time faculty) within six months of the separation, they are now considered variable hour employees.  They may be eligible for voluntary benefits for up to a year regardless of the number of hours worked per week in their part-time position because they have met the full-time definition under the ACA rule by working 30 hours or more per week for the duration of their measurement period. 

The same is true for transfers from benefit eligible positions to variable hour positions without a separation (for instance, faculty appointment ends, but part-time faculty summer role continues).


Temporary/variable hour employees can be hired through the university's payroll or an outside temporary staffing agency with Human Resources review.