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4 Min. Read

Part-Time Vs Full Time Hours for Employees

Part-Time Vs Full Time Hours for Employees

When you’re hiring employees, how do you know which classification to give them? Learn the ins and outs of part-time vs full-time.

The line between full-time or part-time employees can be blurred if you’re not careful. This is particularly difficult with salaried employees. If an employee is paid a regular salary for x number of hours per week and they do overtime, how does that fit in? How do you calculate it? What qualifies as full-time status or just a part-time work schedule with overtime?

With hourly employees, it’s much easier to make a clear distinction.

In this guide, we’ll break down exactly how many hours are full-time hours and part-time hours. And why it matters!

Here’s What We’ll Cover:

How Many Hours Is Considered Full-Time?

Part-Time vs Full-Time - Why Does It Matter?

Key Takeaways

How Many Hours Is Considered Full-Time?

So here’s the thing. There’s no definitive federal law on what is considered a part-time schedule or full-time schedule. In fact, different state and federal laws define the terms completely differently. Very unhelpful, I know.

The general rule of thumb is that over 35-40 hours per week is full-time. Under 35 hours in a single week would be part-time. This is the common interpretation among businesses. The general public also considers full-time as the traditional 40-hour workweek.

That said, the Affordable Care Act defines them slightly differently. I bring attention to this because the part-time vs full-time difference affects ACA guidelines. It defines whether you need to offer health insurance to your employees. So it’s worth knowing how the ACA defines these two vital terms.

The ACA defines a full-time employee as:

  • Works for at least 30 hours per week
  • Or 130 hours per month within 120 consecutive weeks.

Less than that would be a part-time employee.

Part-Time vs Full-Time - Why Does It Matter?

So why do these terms matter so much? What’s the big deal? Not paying attention to how you classify your employees can result in a lot of trouble. You could be breaking federal laws.

  1. Overtime Laws

    How do part-time vs full-time affect overtime laws? In general, there are two camps of employees when we talk about overtime pay: Exempt and Non-Exempt.

    Non-exempt employees include most hourly workers. While there isn’t a definite part-time employee category to consider here, the law is clear. If an hourly worker works more than 40 hours per week, they are entitled to overtime pay in compensation. Most employers would consider that at the part-time work vs full-time work threshold.

    Overtime pay is time and a half of the employee's regular rate. Their regular rate must be at least minimum wage.

    That said, both full-time and part-time employees can be exempt from overtime if:
  • They earn at least $684 a week/$35,658 per year
  • They earn a salary for every week they work
  1. Employee Health Insurance and Benefits

    If you have 50 and over full-time workers, you must provide health insurance. This is because according to the ACA, your business is an “applicable large employer”. All ALEs are required by law to offer health care insurance benefits.

    You may have to offer other benefits to full-time employees such as retirement plans. It is best to check with HR personnel for the federals and state laws that apply to your business
  2. Legalities

    If you get the classification of your employees wrong, you could face legal action. This mostly relates back to the ACA. Their classification of the size of your business really matters. If you have under 50 full-time employees, your business is a small employer or SE. SEs don’t have the same health benefits requirements as ALEs do.
    You could face hefty fines if you operate with over 50 full-time employees and do not provide benefits.

Key Takeaways

Defining your employees as part-time or full-time is more important than you may think. This is why it’s good practice to start tracking your employees’ work hours as efficiently as possible. Make sure that part-time workers are really part-time. If they cross over into being in full-time employment, ensure that they are being supported with a benefits package. You are legally required to do so.

The best way to keep track of how much your employees work is with timesheets. Digital time tracking and timesheet software simplify measuring your staff work hours. We include our timesheet software in all of our membership plans. You can check them out here!

We have written tons of detailed resources on staff management and employee laws. Our resource hub is where you’ll find the latest information to help you with your hiring.