Complete Employers Guide to Part-Time and Full-Time Hours

Answers to common questions, such as: How many hours is part time?

How Many Hours Is A Part Time Job
Learn how many hours are part-time, how many are full time, what happens when a part-time worker works overtime, when a part-timer becomes full-time and more.

Last updated November 19th, 2017

For most companies, 30 hours to 35 hours per week is considered to be part-time. The federal government does not provide a definition of a part-time employee, so part-time is largely defined by employers and is different from company to company.

How Many Hours Is Full-Time?
How Many Hours Is Full Time

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.

State laws may also describe full-time for the purposes of receiving specific benefits, and laws such as COBRA may have an effect as well.

What Is the Difference Between a Full-Time Job and a Part-Time Job?
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.

Creating Part-Time Positions at Your Company:

There are several advantages to creating full-time and part-time employee designations at your company.

Obviously, you can save money by having some employees who do not receive full benefits. It may also be beneficial for both you and the part-time worker to have limited hours.

For instance, if you have gaps in your schedule to fill on certain days and at certain times, having a part-time employee to specifically fill those gaps can be helpful. There are job seekers who may also wish to work a more limited schedule.

When you create part-time positions, the amount of hours they work may not be enough to justify the cost of certain benefits.

One common warning though is that too many part-time workers can be a drag on productivity. Basically, the less time people spend immersed in their job and the company culture, the less productive they are.

What Jobs Are Best for Part-Time?
What Jobs Are Best For Part Time

Traditionally retail, fast food, and hospitality work has 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.

Sometimes when a business is at the height of its busiest season, a full-time employee is unable to work, or some other circumstance changes, a part-time employee may end up working overtime hours.

What happens then?

Overtime for Part-Time Workers:
Overtime For Part Time Workers

Part-time workers may occasionally end up working overtime, or more than 40 hours, in a week. Part-time worker overtime is governed by the FLSA rules on exempt and non-exempt employees. Most likely you will be required to pay a part-time worker overtime, but be sure to review the rules.

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.

When do they lose their part-time status?

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