How many hours a week is a full-time job?

Perhaps you are considering taking on a new role with a company, and you are wondering whether the hours required are overwhelmingly, or even legally, considered full-time or part-time. Classifying your job position as full or part-time can play a role in your benefits, pay, and more, as well as answering your work-life balance needs. For many entering a new job, the question on their mind is: How many hours is a full-time job?

In this guide, we’ll look at what number of hours translates to full-time work, how this affects health insurance and pay, and answer a few of the most frequently asked questions regarding full-time work.

The broad definition of a full-time job

While, in many cases, there is no hard and fast rule for determining whether or not a job is full-time, the most widely accepted amount is 35-40 hours of work a week for a job to be considered full-time. The 40-hour workweek has long been associated with full-time work, and in many office settings this standard remains.

However, many employers will decide if a job is deemed full or part-time. Each company can determine what hours are required to classify a position as full-time, which is why it is important to find out this information upfront when considering a new job role.

Additionally, for those who earn a salary rather than an hourly wage, the hours worked each week tend to vary more than for those who hold hourly positions. In many cases, salaried employees are expected to work more than 40 hours a week, especially when large projects are underway.

However, for salaried positions, there is often more room for flexibility in hours worked in a given week, which can allow employees in these roles the luxury of choosing their own start and end time for the day and flexing their hours based on project needs.

How the affordable care act affects full-time versus part-time work

While the federal government does not mandate the number of hours required to consider a position full-time, the introduction of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) did influence how employers view part-time versus full-time work. Under this act, any employee who works an average of at least 30 hours per week for more than 120 days in a year is considered a full-time employee, and employers with more than 50 employees total must offer these employees health care. Under this act, any employee working less than 30 hours per week on average is part-time and is not entitled to health care.

It is for this reason that many employers now classify full-time workers as anyone working more than 30 hours. Small companies with less than 50 employees may still consider an employee working less than 40 hours a week part-time, as they are not required to provide these benefits.

Should you take a full-time or part-time position?

When comparing part-time and full-time positions, one type of work is not necessarily better than another. Ultimately which job type is ideal for you will depend a lot on your unique circumstances. The following can help you determine whether part-time or full-time work is right for you:

  • Your availability: For most companies, to become a full-time employee, you’ll work at least 35-40 hours. This will require you to have an open schedule and can fulfill these requirements. If you have limited availability, a part-time position might be a better, more flexible option for your situation. This is particularly true if you are already working another job or you are in the process of pursuing a degree.
  • Your need for benefits: In most cases, companies will only offer benefits to full-time employees. However, this is not guaranteed. There are organizations that offer part-time employees benefits or don’t offer benefits at all. Make sure that before accepting a position, you ask about what benefits will be included with the role. You can also use this as a bargaining tool when your skills are in high demand.
  • Your budget: While working a part-time job will allow you more flexibility, they often pay less than full-time jobs. Additionally, by working full-time hours, you’ll be able to increase your total paycheck. In some cases, full-time positions will also offer the opportunity to make overtime or holiday pay, which can be a substantial sum. Think through the amount of money you’ll need to remain within your personal budget when looking for part-time or full-time work.
  • Your urgency: If you are currently unemployed or in a situation where you need a job quickly, being open to both part-time and full-time work can help you land a position faster. And, in many cases, by starting out with a company in a part-time role, you can work your way up in the business, leading to a full-time position. A part-time job can be an effective way of getting your foot in the door and earning more experience.
  • Your job history: If you are new to the workforce, getting a full-time job offer can be more difficult as many companies seek experienced employees to fill their full-time roles. Taking a part-time job can allow you to earn more experience, building your resume for future positions.

Full-time job FAQs

In addition to understanding what constitutes a full-time job, the following are commonly asked questions regarding full-time work.

Is full-time defined at the federal level?

No, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not define full-time employment or part-time employment. It is up to an individual employer to determine what is considered part-time or full-time work.

When must an employer pay overtime?

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers must pay overtime after 40 hours of work in a workweek. There are exceptions to this regulation for special circumstances, such as for firefighters, police, nursing home workers, and hospital employees.

Additionally, certain states have their own overtime laws. In this case, an employee is subject to both the state and federal overtime laws and is entitled to overtime pay based on the higher standard.

Exempt employees who are paid a salary are not entitled to overtime pay for hours worked over 40 during a workweek, according to the FLSA.

Is overtime pay required for weekends or nights?

The FLSA does not require extra pay for working weekends or nights. Any additional pay for these hours is negotiated between an employer and employee.