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Terms and Definitions

What are full-time hours?

Updated: May 23, 2024

Full-time hours definition and meaning

Full-time hours are the number of hours someone must work to be considered a full-time employee, instead of a part-time worker. In the US, full-time hours are not clearly defined by law, so employers determine their own definitions of what constitutes full-time work. While some states hold minimum hours for full-time positions, they only do so to help employers determine which benefits they must offer.

More about full-time hours and their purpose

In many cases, the definition of full-time will be determined by what is common in a given industry. For example, if an employee works in healthcare or retail, full-time could be up to 60 hours per week, as the job may require longer hours or shift work. However, in the professional services sector, 30 or 35 hours may be considered full-time.

How many hours is full-time?

While there is no legal definition of full-time, the IRS sets guidelines that state that full-time employees work an average of at least 30 hours per week or 130 hours per month. Furthermore, under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employees are required to earn at least the minimum wage for all hours worked, up to 40 hours per week. Another thing to remember is that if employees work additional hours during a seven-day period, they must be paid one and a half times their hourly rate for the extra hours worked.


Is working 32 hours considered full-time?

The definition of full-time varies greatly by employer and industry. However, some employers may consider 32 hours to 40 or more hours per week full-time. No matter what your company defines as full-time, you must abide by different employment laws. For example, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) states that employers with at least 50 full-time employees are required to offer health insurance.

Can employees work more than full-time?

Yes, workers may exceed full-time hours. In fact, this often happens in industries such as healthcare and retail. Federal and state laws require that most employers pay overtime to employees who work more than full-time. Since there are exceptions to these laws, it’s important to familiarize yourself with them to determine what applies to you.


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

While full-time employees usually receive all available benefits, part-time workers may only be eligible for some or none of them. Both full-time and part-time workers pay payroll taxes and are protected by the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Note that the definition of full-time and part-time varies by employer, as there are no laws with specific requirements.

Using full-time hours in a sentence

“Since I work-full time hours, I am entitled to benefits, such as health insurance and a 401(k) plan with a match.”

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