The boundary between full-time and part-time work isn’t always clear. What one company considers a full-time job at 35 hours per week, another company might call part-time because it isn’t 40 hours.
Even Wikipedia defines full-time employment vaguely as, “employment in which a person works a minimum number of hours defined as such by his/her employer.” Not super helpful.
But there are some guideposts and telltale signs that can help job seekers determine which listings are full-time jobs. In this post, you’ll learn some of the different ways to answer the question, “What is a full-time job?”
When you’re searching for a job, the listing can be a good source of information for figuring out if the job is full-time. The same goes for the company’s careers or human resources pages.
The most obvious is, of course, whether it says it’s a full-time or part-time role. But, believe it or not, it’s not always spelled out so clearly, so you may need to do a little more research. Below, we have several different ways to figure out if a job is full-time or part-time.
6 Different Ways to Determine If a Job Is Full-Time
1. Don’t waste time looking for a standard.
When it comes to full-time and part-time regulations, there aren’t many. And the ones that exist do not set any standard for how many hours are considered full-time. In some industries, a maximum number of hours worked in a single shift is determined by law because of safety concerns. Examples include some healthcare workers, transit drivers, and pilots.
As Alison Doyle explains in article on full-time employment, “The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) dictates that employers must pay non-exempt employees time and one half for any hours worked above 40 per week. An exempt employee paid a salary is not entitled to overtime pay for hours worked beyond 40 during a workweek.”
This explains why it’s common consensus to think of full-time hours as 40 hours per week, but it doesn’t clearly define 40 hours as a full-time job.
2. Check each company’s policy.
Doyle also writes that “company policy determines the hours that employees are expected to work. The company may specify a set number of hours and, optionally, what your work schedule will be. For example, your employee handbook may specify 9 am – 6 pm or simply state 45 hours per week.”
How can you figure out a company’s policy? Many companies outline general work schedules or hours on their websites. And if you’re interviewing, you can ask their human resources department or your interviewer for details.
3. Use FlexJobs to sort by full-time and part-time.
At FlexJobs, for example, when listing full-time and part-time jobs, we draw the line at 40 hours per week. On our advanced search page, you can search based on work schedule, which includes:
- flexible schedule
- alternative schedule
Any job listing that requires 40 hours per week or more, or says it’s a full-time role, is listed as full-time. Anything underneath 40 hours per week, or that mentions being a part-time schedule, is listed as part-time. There can be multiple schedule attributes, so jobs may also be listed as flexible, alternative, long- or short-term, occasional, and seasonal.
4. Find out if the job comes with benefits.
Most full-time jobs come with at least some benefits that people working part-time in the same company do not have access to. Those might include things like health/dental/vision insurance, vacation time, 401(k) programs, sick leave, and parental leave.
This guideline is especially helpful if you’re dealing with a large company, because they’re more likely to offer benefits to full-time employees. Small companies and startups, on the other hand, are less likely to offer these sorts of benefits to employees, full-time or part-time.
5. Determine whether the job is a salaried or hourly position.
Not all, but most full-time jobs will be salaried positions. So if you’re looking at a job that offers an hourly rate, it’s most likely a freelance or part-time job.
However, there are more than a few part-time jobs that come with a salary, so like all of these other indicators, this isn’t a rule so much as it’s a norm.
6. Apply the new overtime rules to the job.
President Obama announced revisions to the Fair Labor Standards Act that determine whether someone is eligible for overtime pay after working more than 40 hours in a week. You can learn more about what these rules mean for full-time workers here. In a nutshell, the change is expected to make 4.2 million additional workers eligible to receive time-and-a-half wages for each extra hour they work beyond 40 each week.
Again, because the FLSA doesn’t determine full- or part-time hours, these updated rules simply increase the number of people who are nonexempt from overtime pay (versus exempt, which is what most salaried, full-time employees are).
So, what is a full-time job?
One thing’s for sure—it’s not an easy question to answer. But by using the guidelines above, you can begin to determine, before speaking with the company or receiving a job offer, whether a job listing is for a full-time or part-time job.