Differences Between Full-Time Hours And Part-Time Hours

Consider hiring full-time and part-time employees depending on the type of business you run and the industry you are active in. Still, in many cases, this can be a tough decision. 

Choosing the right path for you and your team can be challenging. It's more complex than it seems, but it mainly depends on the number of hours that appear on timesheets. There are many more implications, and you need to consider them all, not only for the success of your organization but also so that you can always stay compliant.

Making a clear difference between part-time and full-time is key to understanding your employers' obligations regarding your employees' rights, like benefits, health insurance, vacation time, retirement plans, etc.

In this article, we will discover all there is to know about the difference between full-time and part-time hours so you can ensure you won't be exposed to breaking the legislation and possible fines.


  • Part-time hours
  • Full-time hours
  • Comparison Table - part-time vs. full-time
  • FAQs

Part-time hours

How many hours is part-time?

We will check again if there are legal definitions for this term as a point of start. There are none, so this is again a case when the employer will take up this task. As a general rule of thumb, a part-time worker will perform at least 32/30 hours per week on average. They have more flexible schedules than full-time workers.

We will "work" with this upper limit of 32 or 30 hours per week, but keep in mind that there is no lower limit. The number of hours will depend on each company, industry, or the agreement the 2 parties decide to have. 

Here are the varieties of part-time work schedules you can use depending on the needs of your organization:

  • Freelancing - a freelancer is part of your team just temporarily. Usually, they have to complete a particular task/project and have clear limitations regarding hours and financial terms.
  • Split schedule - this type of schedule where your employee's work hours are divided into two or more parts, with unpaid time off in between. It may work if your employees need to, for example, go to the doctor with their children.
  • Alternate schedule - this type of schedule allows a variation from the employee's usual hours in starting and leaving times but does not change the total number of hours worked in a week.
  • On-call - usually found in the emergency service industry. Such a worker may not actually do any work at all but must be on duty for a specific period.
  • Remote - probably the most manageable schedule to use. Regardless of the employee's location, everyone does their job.


There are specific sectors/industries where part-time jobs are suitable. Let's see the most common ones:

  • hospitality
  • health and care services
  • computer programming
  • data entry
  • graphic and web design
  • accounting
  • retail
  • house-sitting/caretaking.

 A very important characteristic of part-time roles is that, in most cases, part-time workers are not entitled to workplace benefits.



We need to go back to the distinction made by the FLSA between non-exempt and exempt employees, and the conclusion is straightforward.

  • If a part-time employee works extra hours beyond 40 hours and is non-exempt, they will be entitled to overtime pay.
  • If the employee wants to offer more, he can, of course, do it and implement extra overtime pay that does not go beyond the 40 hours through internal regulations.

Advantages and disadvantages of part-time employment

Find below a list of advantages and disadvantages you need to consider before using part-time employment:


  • Lower costs - since usually part-time workers do not receive any benefits, you will save money.
  • Flexibility on both sides - depending on the nature of your business, you may need just part-time workers for specific tasks, which comes in handy. For the employee, on the other hand, working part-time can mean flexibility for another job or a great work-life balance.
  • Takes the pressure off your full-time staff - you can hand over some of the tasks that cause pressure on your staff to the part-time workers, leading to better productivity.



  • Lack of commitment is not universal, but some part-time employees tend not to be dedicated to a company where they spend little time.
  • Unpredictable monthly costs - depending on the specific projects and the type of contract, the monthly costs with part-time employees will vary. Make sure you track their hours correctly.


The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) describes workers' rights and employers' responsibilities and provides provisions such as:

  • The minimum wage - every employer must offer the federal minimum wage - of $7.25 per hour.
  • Overtime - don't forget that you need to consider also overtime when calculating the cost for an employee (full or part-time)
  • Keeping track of worked hours - FLSA also requires employees to keep track of the workers their employees work, even if we speak about work from the office or remotely. 



Full-time hours 

How many hours is full-time?

We will first look at any definition in various laws in the US to understand how many hours a full-time employee is supposed to work. 

Firstly, The US Department of Labor does not define full-time employment. On the other hand, the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) and the Internal Revenue Service (the IRS) mention that a full-time employee is one "who works an average of either 1) 30 hours or more per workweek or 2) 130 hours during a month."

With these limits in mind, we must point out that US employers have a great say in how they define full-time employment, which will vary from company to company. However, an employer must consider other factors when deciding on this aspect. Here they are:

The work is permanent, temporary, or seasonal

If the future employee occupies a permanent role with more than 30 hours per week, consider him a full-time worker.

If there is a case of a temporary or seasonal role, the key will be the type of contract you will have with the employee, in which case you need to make sure you are compliant with any local or federal laws regarding this matter.

Will the new hire receive benefits?

As a rule, full-time employees receive benefits such as paid time off, health insurance, or retirement plans, which cannot be applied to part-time employees. There are cases when you, as an employer, are supposed to offer part-time workers some benefits on a pro-rata basis.

In Pennsylvania, for example, part-time workers who obtain up to 30% of their total unemployment benefits rate from their work can still claim unemployment benefits. However, the money they receive will be lower than that of a full-time employee.

Are you considered a small employer (SE) or an applicable large employer (ALE)?

The ALE is an employer with more than 50 employees, and under the Affordable Care Act, this type of employer must offer certain healthcare benefits. On the other hand, a SE (with less than 50 employees) will be bound to respect other requirements.



Overtime is common in many industries, and it can lead to many extra hours worked by a full-time employee.

Generally, we speak about overtime when an employee works more than 40 hours/week and must be compensated for these. The employee will be paid 1.5 times their regular hourly wage (remember there are some exceptions).

Be aware that if the employee volunteers to work overtime, the employer will not be responsible for paying him the extra fee.

The Fair Labor Standards Act will confirm for every employer when overtime is due.

There are two main categories of employees under the FLSA, and there is a difference regarding overtime:

  • Non-exempt employees: they are the ones who will be paid for overtime work. They usually perform repetitive work and are paid an hourly salary.
  • Exempt employees will not receive overtime pay; they only have to obtain a minimum salary of $684 per week.

How do you calculate the overtime pay?

Let's consider, for example, that an employee is paid $55/hour who completed the standard 40 hours/week and worked ten extra hours in the specified week.

  • The overtime pay rate would be $55 x 1.5 x 10 hours = $825.
  • The whole weekly payment would be $55 x 40 + $825 = $3025.

Advantages and disadvantages of full-time employment

There are many aspects to consider when hiring a full-time or a part-time worker. Let's go through them:


  • Financial stability regarding your employees - when your staff is employed full-time, you can plan in advance how much you will spend each month on salary, benefits, and even bonuses. The benefits are sick leave, maternity leave, health insurance, retirement plans, paid time off, and education assistance.
  • Dependability - you always have the specialists you need available to do their work for each challenging task.
  • Loyalty and dedication - Offering your employees stability on the job, with full-time employment, means they will become invested in the organization, motivated, and loyal.


  • Issues if the business is not successful - When having a contract based on full-time hours, but the business is not going very well, you, as the employer, will still need to honor the contract terms.
  • Some people may become entitled or bored. A full-time position can also generate this, and the employer needs to find new ways to stimulate and motivate full-time workers.
  • Issues with work-like balance - A full-time employee can become highly attached to work and the company. Therefore, you, as the employer, should find ways to prevent this situation.



Difference between part-time and full-time employment – comparison table

The table below covers the main differences between part-time and full-time in terms of hours worked, benefits, insurance, and laws.



Part-Time Employee

Full-Time Employee

Number of worked hours

Less than 30 hours per week

More than 30 hours per week

Will the employee receive benefits?

Usually, NO. 

Still, in some cases, the employer can decide to offer some(or some local laws will impose this).


Will the employee receive health insurance?

Usually, NO. In some cases, such an obligation for the employer may exist.

For employers with more than 50 employees, YES. Under 50, it has to be individually checked.

Will the employer follow local laws?





What is the difference between a full-time employee and a part-time employee?

All in all, employers decide how many hours they consider full-time and how many part-time. The fundamental difference is that part-time workers usually do not receive any or very limited benefits.


How many hours is a full-time employee supposed to work?

Full-time employees are supposed to work at least 30 hours/week or at least 130 hours/month.

State/local laws may have more specific provisions.


Is working 32 hours considered full-time?

In this case, the Affordable Care Act considers a 32-hour workweek full-time workload. But every employer can decide for their organization.

Can a part-time worker become a full-time employee?

Depending on every industry, sector, or company, an initial part-time employee can become a full-time employee. Make sure you have an internal policy to avoid exposing your organization to possible fines and lack of compliance.




Many jobs from many sectors do not require hiring part-time employees. Many companies are not designed to accommodate such an employee, which is fine. 

Now you have all the information you need to make the right decision. Start small: with just one part-time worker and see if this situation is the right fit for you and your organization.

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