How Many Hours Can a Per Diem Employee Work? Answered

Short Answer: In most cases, per diem employees can work as much as their employers will allow. However, some states have regulations in place that set a maximum number of hours or consecutive days a person can work. For more information on federal and state regulations for per diem employees, see below.

How Many Hours Can a Per Diem Employee Work?

Per diem (literally “per day”) employees are like independent contractors in that they don’t have a set schedule. They work as needed and with a flexible schedule, are paid per day, and may not receive benefits. In general, a per diem employee can work as many hours as their company’s policy allows. Nurses, health care professionals, and substitute teachers often work on a per diem basis.

There is no federal law that caps the number of hours someone can work. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not limit the number of hours per day or per week that employees (aged 16 and older) can be required to work. However, some states do set limits on how many hours or consecutive days employees can work based on certain circumstances. For example, several states have a “day of rest” law, which mandates that employees are entitled to 24 consecutive hours of rest during a calendar week. Virtually all per diem jobs are professions that require a level of higher education or have a minimum age requirement of 18, so labor regulations regarding minors do not apply.

We researched labor laws for all 50 states and the District of Columbia; see the table below for a breakdown of which states have laws regulations the hours and days adult employees can work:

State Regulations
Alabama No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Alaska No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Arizona No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Arkansas No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
California Employers cannot discipline employees who refuse to work more than 72 hours in one week
Colorado No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Connecticut No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Delaware No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
District of Columbia No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Florida No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Georgia No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Hawaii No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Idaho No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Illinois "Day of rest" law
Indiana No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Iowa No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Kansas No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Kentucky "Day of rest" law
Louisiana No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Maine Employers cannot require employees to work more than 80 hours of overtime in any consecutive two weeks of work
Maryland No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Massachusetts "Day of rest" law
Michigan No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Minnesota No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Mississippi No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Missouri No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Montana No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Nebraska No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Nevada Domestic employees who work more than 40 hours per week are entitled to 24 consecutive hours of rest per week and 48 consecutive hours of rest per month
New Hampshire Employees who work on Sunday are entitled to one day of rest in the next six days
New Jersey No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
New Mexico No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
New York "Day of rest" law for workers in hotels, restaurants, factories, and offices
North Carolina No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
North Dakota "Day of rest" law for retail workers
Ohio No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Oklahoma No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Oregon Domestic employees are entitled to 24 consecutive hours of rest per workweek
Pennsylvania No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Rhode Island Employers cannot require employees to work on a Sunday
South Carolina No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
South Dakota No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Tennessee No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Texas "Day of rest" law for retail workers
Utah No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Vermont No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Virginia No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Washington No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
West Virginia No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA
Wisconsin "Day of rest" law
Wyoming No hourly/daily limit; defers to FLSA

If you have a question about your state’s labor laws, you can visit the Wage and Hour Division of the Labor Department’s website.

Note: Private companies that employee per diem workers can also set their own policies limiting the number of hours a per diem employee can work. If you are currently or are looking to be employed as a per diem employee, you should check with your employer to see if it has policies in place to limit working hours.

Per Diem Employee vs Per Diem Allowance

You may hear people use the phrase “per diem” to describe a special kind of allowance given to employees for expenses. Be aware that this is something entirely different from being a per diem employee. According to the General Services Administration (GSA), a per diem is an allowance for lodging (excluding taxes), meals, and incidental expenses. The GSA  establishes per diem rates for destinations within the 48 continental United States; you can find out more at GSA.gov.

In Summary

Per diem employees can usually work as many hours as their employers allow. Although a number of states limit the number of consecutive hours and/or days an employee can work, federal law has no such restrictions.

If you are looking for jobs with the opportunity for flexible scheduling, you can check out our list of work-from-home jobs.