How Many Hours Can a Per Diem Employee Work? Answered

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 a per diem employee 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 employees are like independent contractors in that they don’t have a set schedule. In general, per diem employee can work as many hours as his or her 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 years and older can be required to work.” However, some states do set limits on how much time employees can work based on certain circumstances. Zenefits, a company specializing in human resources software, writes: “Illinois, New York, and Wisconsin have laws limiting the most days worked in a week at a single job to six. … Other states have certain limitations in place. In California, employees can’t be disciplined or fired for refusing to work more than 72 hours a week. In Maine, an employer can’t require workers to put in more than 80 hours of overtime in any consecutive two-week period.” If you have a question about your state’s labor laws, visit the Wage and Hour Division of the Labor Department’s website.

Private companies that employee per diem workers can also set their own policies limiting the number of hours a per diem employee can work. For example, Jennifer Bradford of Soliant Health wrote, “We do not have a minimum or maximum number of hours you must work.”

Note: 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, a per diem is an allowance for lodging (excluding taxes), meals, and incidental expenses. The General Services Administration (GSA) establishes per diem rates for destinations within the lower 48 Continental United States.” To learn more about the per diem allowances, visit

In Summary

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

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