Full Time Vs Part Time Hours: What's The Difference?


Full time and part time hours differ depending on particular jobs and locations. One thing is for certain, though, and that is full time employment entails more hours worked than part time employment.

In many businesses, employers can develop their own unique definition of full time and part time hours. Therefore, there are conflicting definitions regarding what full time and part time hours are, resulting in far-reaching implications regarding various benefits and health insurance. 

For employers, deciding whether a new employer should work full time or part time requires more analysis than the simple number of hours they work. Distinguishing between full time and part time employment is significantly important in order to understand the correct salary an employee should receive, the obligations to the employee that are required, certain benefits, vacation time, and more. 

If an employer is unable to categorize their employee as full time or part time, then the entire business could incur penalties, fines, and even lawsuits.

To ensure this does not happen, we have outlined the differences in full time and part time working hours below and various factors that employers need to understand.

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Full Time Hours

Understanding the exact number of hours someone in full time or part time employment works can be challenging. In the U.S., full time employment is typically a 30 to 40 hour work week. Part time employment is generally less than 30 hours per week. However, this is not as straightforward as it first seems.

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) currently has no specific definition for full time or part time employment. Therefore, employers can determine their own definition of what constitutes both forms of employment. That being said, the IRS does have a definition for full time employees. For purposes of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the IRS state:

“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.”

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Part Time Hours

As with full time employment, there is no true set number of hours outlined for a worker to be considered part time. But, in general, part time workers are seen as those who work fewer than 30 hours per week. 

Currently, the IRS definition of a part time worker is:

“Part-time employees are those who work less than 30 hours per week (on average) or 130 hours per month.”

Also read: The Definition Of Passive Income​​​​​​​

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What is Full Time Employment?  

You may find different results when looking for the number of hours a full time employee works depending on where you look. For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics defines a full time employee as someone who works 35 plus hours a week. But the Affordable Care Act’s definition of full time employment differs, stating that a full time worker is someone who works more than 30 hours per week. 

You need to take different factors into consideration, such as:

  • Whether the employees receive benefits or not.

  • Whether the work is permanent, temporary, or seasonal.

  • Whether the employer is small (SE) or large (ALE).

Full time employees usually benefit from health insurance, private retirement schemes, and paid time off. However, part time workers may still be eligible for such benefits but on a pro rata basis. In some sates, it could be discriminatory not to offer part time employees specific benefits. 

If the role is permanent, it is likely the employee works over 30 hours a week, therefore, they are considered full-time. As for temp or seasonal employees, this will depend on the contract they have with their employer. Whatever the case is, employers must follow Federal and State employment laws to ensure the correct employment conditions and benefits. 

If a company has more than 50 employees that work full time, then the employer is classified as ALE (Applicable Large Employer). This means that the employer must provide a certain level of health care benefits under the ACA (Affordable Care Act). Whilst SE companies have different requirements, they are also not are not exempt from the ACA. 

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What is Part Time Employment?

Part time employees usually have more flexible work schedules compared to their full time counterparts. Therefore, they have more time for activities outside of work, with many even having a second job. 

A few examples of part time work schedules are:

  • Freelancers - These workers typically work remotely or on-site part time, and can be a temporary part of a company.

  • Split schedules - These schedules allow employees to fit their work around their personal lives. Many people with busy family lives follow such schedules. 

  • On call - This is usually seen in the emergency services. This means that employees need to be ready to work when they are called upon and required. But, sometimes, they may not actively partake in any work.

  • Job shares - Some employers may ask their employees to share roles and responsibilities with another department or team member because of commitments outside the workplace.

  • Alternating schedules - Some employer’s plans may change due to certain circumstances. Therefore, these schedules are made to fit around changes.

  • Remote - Remote working allows employees to get work done without any drama or fuss, no matter where the employer and employee is.


Pros and Cons of Full Time and Part Time Employment


Full Time Pros

  • Full dedication to the role and the company

  • Employers can rely on staff for numerous tasks

  • Always aware of outgoings with staff from one month to the next


Full Time Cons


Part Time Pros

  • Fewer costs to the business

  • Gives the team an additional set of hands to help out

  • Flexibility for the employee and employer


Part Time Cons

  • Business’ monthly outgoings can fluctuate

  • Employees may have other commitments

  • Part timers may find other opportunities elsewhere and leave employers short handed


In Summary

Full time and part time employment hours tend to differ from one company to the next. However, in general, anyone who works over 30 hours a week is considered full time and those who work fewer than this are part-time employees. 

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Also read: Compilation Of Minimum Wage By State In The USA​​​​​​​

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