Part Time vs Full Time: How To Know Which You Are

part time vs full time explained

Most people are wondering how many hours they need to work each week in order to be considered full-time employment. Here’s the tough response, there is no strict legal definition of what constitutes part-time employment over full-time employees in terms of your weekly working hours.

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Fair Labor Standards Act, The Bureau Of Labor Statistics & The IRS Weigh In

Both the Fair Labor Standards Acts (FLSA) and Bureau of Labor Statics, who would have the most control over these types of laws and definitions in the workforce say that there is no legal definition for what constitutes full-time employment based on working hours.

The harsh reality is that your employer will define whether or not you are full-time or part-time. And this is not usually determined based on your working hours.

This is because full-time may have health benefits, salary pay, vacation time, stock options and other factors that constitute full-time. But these options are the only differentiator that considers you full-time, not your working hours.

Some part-time jobs do offer these types of benefits. In which case, you may still be part-time with benefits.

Though, the Internal Revenue Service has defined full-time, in terms of working hours as: A full-time employee is, for a calendar month, an employee employed on average at least 30 hours of service per week, or 130 hours of service per month.

But this doesn’t necessarily mean that if you work this amount of hours, your employer must consider you full-time.

How Many Working Hours Is Full-Time?

The reality is that there isn’t a clear definition of this. Your employer won’t define whether or not you are part-time or full-time based on your working hours.

Here is what might constitute knowing whether or not you are full-time:

Can My Employer Be Penalized For Not Classifying Me As Full-Time

This is a complicated subject. Your employer may not be penalized for not constituting you as full-time based on the number of hours you are working. But they can be penalized if they are misclassifying you as part-time. So for example, if you are full-time (and considered full-time) but are not receiving certain benefits, the Applicable Large Employer (ALE) under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may penalize this employer for not providing their full-time employees the proper benefits.

If an employer at least 50 full-time employees on average, then the employer is an Applicable Large Employer. Which means, if they are not providing their employees with the proper benefits, they could be at risk of facing fines or penalties.

What If I Work Overtime, Does This Make Me Full-Time?

Overtime hours are considered overtime hours. And usually follow the FSLA overtime laws on behalf of the U.S. Department of Labor. Overtime hours are usually compensated at a higher hourly rate. But these additional hours don’t constitute you as full-time. In fact, most overtime hours are applicable to those who work part-time.

Full-time employees, who are compensated on an annual salary basis are rarely compensated for overtime hours.

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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