How Many Hours Per Week Constitutes Part-Time? The Answer Here

how many hours is part time employment

Wondering how many working hours per week determines what constitutes part-time employment? The answer is simple but the way we think about this question socially is what might surprise you.

Full-time employment and part-time employment aren’t that different from one another. Full-time employment is only different because your employer has determined it’s full time.

Let’s jump into the differences between these two types of employment and how this impacts what makes you a part-time employee.

Table Of Contents

The Legal Aspect Of Part-Time Employment Hours

If you were to ask the Beaueru of Labor Statistics, which controls labor information in the United States, they would tell you that 35 hours a week is considered full-time employment.

So does that mean that anything under 35 hours per week is considered part-time? The answer would technically be “yes”. But it could also be “no” as well.

Standard full-time employment used to be 40 hours per week. That is what used to constitute full-time employment. But with more employees working flexible schedules, working multiple jobs, working evening jobs or working freelance, this has changed.

The freelance economy has changed a lot of the ways we work. Including what constitutes part-time employment.

The harsh reality is that there is no legal requirement for the number of hours that you have to work and what would make you a full-time employee. If your employment agreement states that you are part-time employment, then you are part-time.

You and your employer will determine the number of hours each week that you can work. If this goes over 35 hours per week, that doesn’t mean you immediately become a full-time employee. There is no legal bearing on this.

Part-Time Has Become Very Popular

For the most part, part-time employment has increased. But it has increased because employees are looking for more flexibility. They want to be able to work multiple jobs, work in the evening and still pursue their own ventures (like freelancing).

This is why companies like WeWork have become popular over the past few years, they’ve realized that our “gig economy” is growing and that more employment is temporary or committed only on a short term level.

The benefits of part-time are great. You might be able to:

These values have outweighed what many people would consider the benefits of working full-time.

Full-Time VS. Part-Time In Your Agreement

You’ll know if you are a full-time employee. Your employer will tell you. If you’d like to transition from being part-time to being full-time, it can be as easy as having a discussion with your employer.

When you’re employed on a full-time basis, the parts of your contract that you might not like are the following:

These can feel restrictive to some people. And they tend to opt for part-time employment instead.

What If I Feel I Should Be Full-Time

If you are feeling that you should be a full-time employee because you are working more than 35 hours a week, this isn’t something you are going to be able to push through “on a legal basis.”

You may simply have to have a difficult discussion with your employer, mentioning that you desire to be full-time in order to receive the benefits they offer and that the hours you work constitutes having upward mobility with the company.

Various Types Of Part-Time Jobs

There are many types of part-time jobs. For example, if you were to work at Starbucks as a Barista, you may work 35 hours a week and still be considered part-time. Even if that were your only level of employment, that might still be considered part-time.

But Starbucks, for example, says that if you work more than 40 hours per week, you’ll be able to receive benefits within the company. Those benefits include stock options, healthcare, and more.

That’s not because you passed a certain legal threshold of hours. Technically, after working 40 hours per week, you might still be in a “part-time” job. But Starbucks has a policy of rewarding workers who are with the company that period of time per week.

A salary position, is usually considered full-time. Anything hourly is usually considered part-time. This is the best way to measure whether or not you are full-time or part-time, regardless of the hours you work or benefits you might receive.

Some part-time positions are offered benefits, which is why this isn’t a great way to measure whether or not you’re full-time. The best way to measure your job security is by the way you are compensated.

Salary positions are inherently more committal to the employee. It perceives them as a long-term investment, seeing their compensation outlook at least one year in advance of their signing of the employment agreement.

Should I Work Full-Time or Part Time?

This is all dependent on what you value. And where you see your life going. If you feel like you can work a full-time position, that their employment agreement says you can work an additional part-time job, and you decide to take one. Then that’s a beautiful thing. Don’t burn yourself out!

If you feel like you’d like to invest your time working for both an employer and yourself. In some type of mixture between freelancing and full-time employment, then maybe a few part-time positions are right for you. This would constitute “contracting” or “freelancing”.

Find what you want in your life, what you need, and then figure out what type of employment is best for you. Consider your friends, family, free time and more before jumping into a decision.

Part-Time Job Resources

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur,, SparkHire, and many more.


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