Am I Compliant? Full Time vs. Part Time Employees
The widely accepted definition of full-time employment is 40 hours per week, but part-time employment is a bit harder to pin down. Some employers consider part-time employment to be less than 25 hours per week; for others, it’s less than 30 hours per week. When there are no legal considerations, some employers simply adopt the Bureau of Labor Statistics definitions.
Bureau of Labor Statistics Definitions
The BLS regards full-time employees as those who typically work 35 hours or more per week and part-time employees as those who typically work less than 35 hours per week. Note that these are not legal definitions. (They’re developed solely for statistical purposes.)
Legal factors influencing full-time and part-time employment
Fair Labor Standards Act: Although the FLSA does not define full-time or part-time employment, it requires overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. Many employers define full-time employment as 40 hours per week because it simplifies the monitoring, recording and calculation of overtime.
State law: States may establish their own definition of full-time and part-time employment. In some states, full-time employment is regarded as 40 hours per week and part-time as less than 35 hours per week. Also, some states mandate that employers provide certain benefits, such as paid sick leave, to both full-time and part-time employees who work a specified number of hours.
Affordable Care Act: If you have 50 or more full-time employees, the ACA says you must offer health insurance or pay a penalty. For ACA purposes, full time is 30 hours per week or 130 hours per month. Anything less is considered part-time employment.
Business factors influencing full-time and part-time employment
Work schedule: If the job requires the employee to be present on most or all workdays and delivers little to no flexibility, then it’s likely full time. Usually, full-time roles need a stable presence, with the employee working at least seven to eight hours per workday or 35-40 hours per workweek.
Conversely, if the job comes with fewer responsibilities, inconsistent hours and a good amount of flexibility, then it’s likely part-time. Typically, part-time roles demand less commitment from the employee than do full-time positions.
Pay and benefits: Full-time employees are normally paid either on an hourly or salary basis. If a full-time hourly or salaried employee is nonexempt under the FLSA, he or she must receive no less than the federal or state minimum wage. Employees should also get overtime — at one and a half times their regular rate of pay — for work hours exceeding 40 in a workweek. Full-time employees are often paid at a higher rate than part-time employees and are offered a wider range of company benefits.
Part-time employees typically receive limited, if any, benefits. (Many employers don’t go beyond what’s legally required for part-time employees in terms of benefits.) Though part-time positions are frequently classified as hourly, they can be hourly or salaried. Keep in mind that if a salaried employee is exempt under the FLSA, you must pay him or her no less than $684 per week — regardless of whether the position is full time or part time.
Employee classifications like this can be tricky, so refer to an HR Professional or Labor Attorney for guidance.