I was hired in August as a part-time RN by the VA only because there was no full-time positions available in my speciality. To answer your questions:
1) Yes. My tour is 40 hours per pay period so ideally I work 3 tours (shifts) the first week of the ppd, and 2 tours (shifts) the second week of the ppd. However, I very often pick up extra shifts and even worked 84 hours one ppd which included overtime hours. I am guaranteed 40 hours ppd but can work more if shifts are available.
2) Sort of and YES!...If you are FT or PT and work on the holiday you get holiday pay (double). If you are FT and DON'T work the holiday and don't call off your tour (shift) before the holiday you get paid regular pay (not double) even though you did not work. If you are PT and DO NOT work the holiday, you do not get paid, part timers only make holiday pay if they work ON THE ACTUAL HOLIDAY. Does that make sense? And YES the shift diff's are the same - 10% nights, 25% weekends (because I had to adjust my budget to accept PT hours I work as many nights and weekends as possible!)
3) Sort of. As a PT employee you receive the same matching 457b (401k) as a FT employee. As a PT employee your year is pro-rated based on the hours you work. So if you work 40 hours per pay period (instead of FT 80 hours) one year of employment is considered only 6 months which will affect your pension. My goal was to get into the VA by hook or by crook (even PT if necessary), so I would be able to move to FT when something becomes available. As far as the health insurance you have the exact same options as the FT employees but your price is pro-rated. For instance, my plan costs the FT employee $65/ppd. Because I am PT I pay $150 ppd for an EXCELLENT health insurance plan. Dental and vision cost exactly the same if you are PT or FT.
That being said about the pension for a PT employee, your pension is based on your three highest earning years. So, ideally you are 5+ years from retirement. It's ok if you work PT for two years as long as your final 3 years BEFORE RETIREMENT are FT you will receive the full retirement amount. Your pension is based on your THREE HIGHEST EARNING years. I have a friend who worked PT for the VA for many years but went FT right before she turned 60 so her retirement will be based on her FT salaried years. Also, shift diff is included when figuring out your pension but OVERTIME IS NOT. So, try to earn as much shift diff as possible during your 3 highest earning years because that will increase the amount your pension is based on.
Make sure they are offering you PART-TIME and NOT intermittent. Intermittent has totally different rules and much fewer benefits (if any). Also, once they give you the offer it will be based on FT hours. Do not confuse that with your PT salary! So if they say your offer is $80K per year, that is the FT rate, if you only work PT hours you should only be expecting to earn $40K (without extra shifts or shift diff).
The VA sounds very confusing but it really makes sense, it's like one of those optical illusion pictures. Initially all you see is black wavy lines but once you stare at it long enough all you can see is the upside down lady!
I love my new job and my new company, and really appreciate the flexibility that PT has given me. I definitely had to tighten my belt to live off the reduced salary but it is totally worth it. Not only do I benefit from serving our vets but I also have significantly reduced stress which makes me a better nurse.
Welcome aboard and feel free to ask more questions!