What Is the Minimum Expectation for Full-Time Hours?


Find Out Company Policy Before You Start Your Job: The organization should provide a work schedule and outline expectations, including hours and pay.

This illustration describes what a full-time week is including'In the past, 40 hours was the typical work week,''Today, there's no universally accepted, or government-set, definition for full-time employment,' and'Individual employers determine how many hours a week are considered full-time, whether 30 hours, 35 hours, or 37.5 hours.'

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Determining how many hours is full time can be important for both employees and employers to help determine their respective rights and responsibilities at work. The following guide looks at how to establish how many hours is full time when compared with part time workers, and how this impacts workers’ rights and entitlements.

There is no set formula for deciding what amounts to full time or part time work, with no legal minimum or maximum number of hours before someone is considered to be either a full time or part time worker. Instead, the law sets out a somewhat loose definition of what constitutes a full or part time worker based on the custom and practice where they work.

“…s/he is paid wholly or in part by reference to the time s/he works and, having regard to the custom and practice of the employer in relation to workers employed by the worker’s employer under the same type of contract, is identifiable as a full-time worker”.

“…if s/he is paid wholly or in part by reference to the time s/he works and, having regard to the custom and practice of the employer in relation to workers employed by the worker’s employer under the same type of contract, is not identifiable as a full-time worker”.

In practice this typically means that a full time worker is someone who works a standard number of contracted hours for their particular type of work based on the normal working practices of the company or organisation in question for a full time worker.

Even though many people consider anything between 35 to 40 hours to be a full time working week, the number of hours a person is expected to work as a full time worker can vary depending on their employer. In some cases, it is less, for other employers, it can be more.

There is no legally defined number of hours for full time employment, where individual employers can decide how many hours per week are to be considered full time. The hours that workers are expected to work will usually be set out in the company working hours policy and/or within individual contracts of employment.

Is there a maximum number of hours a full-time employee can work?

on maximum hours worked on an average week. On average, this cap is 48 hours per week, with the average taken from 17 previous weeks worked. Some industries are exempt from this cap.

Businesses that require a 24-hour staff presence, including armed forces and emergency services, do not follow this cap, as it would interfere with critical job duties and potentially interrupt vital services. Because of the nature of their jobs, private security and surveillance professionals are also exempt, as are domestic servants in private households.

Full-time employment under U.S. law

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees who work more than 40 hours per week and aren’t salaried must be paid time-and-a-half for every hour worked over 40 hours. Some employers consider employees that work at least 35 hours per week to be full-time workers and offer overtime pay for every hour worked past 35. However, salaried workers aren’t always entitled to more money for working more than 40 hours-per-week.

To qualify for unpaid leave, an employee must have worked at least 1,250 hours for the company over a 12-month period. This translates to an average of 24-hour workweeks. If an employee satisfies this condition, they can take up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave per year.

Affordable Care Act (ACA) Definition of Full-Time Employment

With the introduction of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), the definition of a full-time employee has been prescribed as a worker who spends an average of 30 or more hours per week on the job. Employers with 50 or more employees are required to offer health care to full-time employees under the ACA.  

Organizations can choose a historical period of three to 12 months to assign a full-time status to workers if they averaged 30 or more hours during that period of time. Once designated as full-time, employers must keep workers in that status for at least six months.  

When Does a Part-Time Worker Become Full-Time?

If a part-time worker is consistently working full-time but not receiving full-time benefits, this can lead to IRS and ERISA violations. You’ll want to have a specific policy that dictates when a part-time employee becomes full-time so that you consistently offer benefits across your organization.

What is the difference between a full-time job and a part-time job?

Employers decide how many hours per week is full-time and part-time, and what the differences will be. Part-time employees are usually offered limited benefits and health care. For example, a part-time employee may not be eligible for paid time off, healthcare coverage, or paid sick leave.

How many hours must a full-time employee put into work?

The U.S. Department of Labor does not give a definition of what a full-time employee is, but the IRS and the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) define it as anyone working 30 or more hours per week, or 130 hours or more per month.

These definitions may not affect you if your company is not considered an Applicable Large Employer (ALE) by the IRS. Generally, companies with fewer than 50 employees are not considered ALEs, but this can vary for a number of reasons.

What type of jobs are suitable for part-time employment?

Traditionally retail, fast food, and hospitality work have been the domain of part-time jobs, as they often need flexible schedules to accommodate changes in demand. But now more professionals are becoming part-time workers to give both employee and employer increased flexibility.

Is a 32-hour workload considered part-time?

While most employers define full-time work as ranging between 32 and 40 hours a week, the Affordable Care Act specifies that a part-time worker works fewer than 30 hours a week on average. Under the Affordable Care Act, a 32-hour workweek is considered full-time.

Can a part-time worker become a full-time employee?

Sometimes what seemed like a temporary change may become a long-term one, and a part-time employee may end up working full-time hours for an extended period. You’ll want to have a specific policy that dictates when a part-time employee becomes full-time so that you consistently offer benefits across your organization, thus preventing any IRS and ERISA violations that may arise otherwise.



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