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How Many Hours is Full Time?

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How Many Hours is Full Time?

How many hours is full time is a question that doesn’t have a concrete answer. 

No laws regulate the exact number of hours that constitute full-time work. Instead, the United States Department of Labor allows companies to determine the hours, imposing only some regulations. 

Therefore, job seekers must inquire about their working schedules to know if the job fits their routines and work-life balance. 

This article will outline how many hours translate to full-time work, the benefits of working full-time, and the pros and cons of full-time vs. part-time positions. 

What is Defined as Full-Time Work?

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, currently, 132,320,000 Americans are working full-time jobs. The Bureau defines workers in such jobs as those who work 35 hours or more per week. 

However, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) doesn’t provide a concise definition of full-time work. Generally, organizations set up the amount of working time, usually between 30 to 50 hours per week. 

Yet, there is one legal regulation that businesses must keep in mind when defining full-time. Namely, the IRS mandates employers to identify their full-time employees for the purposes of the employer-shared responsibility provisions. 

The IRS’s definition of a full-time employee is one who puts in at least 30 hours of services per week or 130 hours per month on average. 

According to the IRS, an hour of service is each hour for which the worker is entitled to a wage. However, there are exclusions from the definition of an hour of service for labor in specific capacities. 

The Standard Full-Time Job

Typically, employees work 40 hours from Monday to Friday in a standard full-time job. Most often, jobs require workers to operate for eight hours per day. Yet, depending on the business and the position, the daily requirements may be distributed differently during the week. 

BLS’s data shows that in 2021, American employees in standard jobs worked 8.53 hours on weekdays and 5.89 hours on weekends. 

Affordable Care Act’s Definition of Full-Time Job

The introduction of the Affordable Care Act affected how employers view full-time vs. part-time jobs. Under this act, a full-time employee works at least 30 hours weekly for more than 120 days a year.  

In addition, the ACA obligates companies with more than 50 workers to offer them health care. 

According to the ACA, the minimum hours for a full-time position is 30. Employees who work less than that are considered to be part-time workers. 

Employers’ Definition of Full-Time Employment (Company Policy)

Since there are no strict regulations about full-time employment, it depends on the employer and the company’s policy.  

Organizations that follow best practices define the working hours and schedules in their company policy and the employee handbook. 

These documents are created to protect the employer and the workers from any unwanted conflict regarding what a position entails. 

Besides defining the work schedule, companies can create attendance, time off, and turnaround time policies. These determine attendance and turnaround expectations and the consequences of breaking the rules. 

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Full-Time Job & U.S. Regulations

Beyond the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, there are no other U.S. regulations that mandate how an employer defines full-time. 

However, there are regulations when it comes to overtime work. Namely, according to the FLSA, non-exempt employees who put in more than 40 hours per week must be given time-and-a-half compensation for every hour worked over the 40.  

Employers who consider 35 hours as full-time pay for every hour worked past the 35 hours.  

However, some states have overtime regulations; therefore, workers should check what they are eligible for with the state where they work. 

The Benefits of Working a Full-Time Job

One of the most significant bargaining chips in attracting talent for full-time positions is the benefits that come with them. Some of the most common employee benefits that companies offer include: 

  • Paid time off (PTO) 
  • Sick leave 
  • Retirement plans 
  • Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) 
  • Health insurance 
  • Dental insurance 
  • Maternity and paternity leave 
  • Childcare 
  • Paid holidays 
  • Flexible work schedules 
  • Pension plans 

However, it must be noted that, apart from what laws mandate employers to offer, they have considerable autonomy when designing a benefits package 

Hence, they might require a worker to be employed for a specific period before becoming eligible for benefits, or they could offer partial benefits to part-time workers. 

Full-Time Work & Exempt Employees

FLSA governs jobs classified into “exempt” and “non-exempt.”  

Unlike non-exempt workers, exempt or salaried employees are not eligible for overtime compensation 

Some jobs are regarded as exempt by definition. However, for most workers, their employee status depends on three characteristics: 

  • How much they earn. Exempt employees earn more than $455 per week or $100,000 annually. 
  • How they earn their money. Exempt workers receive a salary instead of an hourly wage. 
  • The kind of work they do. Exempt employees perform exempt job duties regulated by the FLSA. 

Job positions must have all three characteristics to be considered ‘exempt.’ 

The FLSA doesn’t set any limits to working hours per week. As a result, many salaried workers put in far more than 40 hours every workweek to finish their tasks. This can negatively affect the employee experience and increase the company’s employee turnover rates. 

Full-Time Hours & Schedule Changes 

According to federal employment law, an employer may modify an employee’s work schedule without permission. Only employees under the age of 16 are exempt from this rule. 

Many businesses set policies about managing schedule changes to avoid disputes regarding a full-time schedule. Commonly, if a schedule change means that an employee will be working fewer hours than what the organization has determined as full-time, they will be considered part-time. 

Full-Time vs. Part-Time Job: Differences, Pros & Cons

There are two significant differences between a full-time vs. a part-time job. 

The first distinction is the number of working hours. Employees work 30-40 hours per week in a full-time position, whereas they work less than 30 hours per week in a part-time job. 

The other disparity is the eligibility for benefits. Full-time employees receive some mandatory benefits if they fall under specific regulations. However, employers are less likely to offer any benefits to part-time workers since no laws require them to provide them. 

Apart from these two differences, there are others that some might consider as pros and some might consider as cons when deciding whether to work a full-time vs. a part-time job. 

The pros and cons of working full-time include the following: 

Better benefits   
A fixed schedule   
Greater stability   
Greater possibility of becoming stagnant 
Steady income   
Lack of versatility on resume   
Higher probability for career growth   
Inability to choose projects   
More opportunities for professional development   
Difficulty balancing work and personal life   

On the other hand, working in a part-time position has its advantages and disadvantages, including: 

More free time to pursue other activities   
Shortage of benefits   
Less work-related stress   
Less money 
Better work-life balance
Lack of job security   
Opportunities to enhance skills   
Fewer advancement options   
Flexible scheduling   

The Impact of a Four-day Workweek on Full-Time Jobs

While working from Monday to Friday is considered the norm, that is slowly changing. The four-day workweek is gathering momentum in the future of work. 

Even though it has yet to be widely implemented, many companies worldwide have given it a try and have had positive results. 

For instance, in 2021, the UK’s first app-based bank Atom Bank allowed its employees to work 34 hours over four days instead of 37.5 over five days. 

A survey of its staff found that 86% of workers started feeling excited about going to work and experiencing less stress. 

Buffer is another example of a company operating for four days per week for two years with great results.  

In fact, the company found that job satisfaction and happiness levels increased for 91% of their employees. In addition, they report that 84% of their teams have no trouble finishing their tasks in four days. 

These and other success stories show that a four-day workweek can only positively impact a company’s culture if implemented in the correct workplace settings with no negative consequences for full-time jobs. 


In a nutshell, the organization determines how many hours is full time for their employees. However, specific regulations define the scope of hours that can be regarded as full-time. 

In any case, HR professionals should inform candidates about their working schedules during the recruitment process to avoid confusion and conflict. 

Written by Shortlister Editorial Team
Written by Shortlister Editorial Team