Knowing how many hours is part time is important for employers and workers. Especially since the allocation of benefits hinges on the number.
There is no single answer to the question of how many hours is part time. Part-time employees work fewer hours than full-time employees. Beyond that, there is no specific cut-off point between full- and part-time hours that applies to every company. With the exception of large employers subject to Affordable Care Act (ACA) provisions (discussed below), each employer gets to decide. Many employers consider the minimum hours for full-time work to be between 30 to 35 hours per week. Part-time employees, then, would be those who work less than full-time hours, however, that’s defined by their organization.
Many businesses choose to offer benefits to full-time employees that they don’t provide to their part-time workers. For example, they may offer health insurance and/or paid time off only to their full-time staff. For companies with fewer than 50 employees, the employer can decide who is eligible for a company-provided health plan.
Employers and HR professionals need to define how many hours would be considered part-time in their company. They also need to decide whether part-time workers receive fewer benefits. Employees and job seekers should be aware if a position is classified as part-time or full-time. And they should understand how that classification affects the benefits they receive.
This article will cover how federal laws define part-time hours. That includes how many hours an employee needs to work to be considered part time. We’ll also look at whether part-time employees receive benefits and some of the advantages of part-time jobs.
How do labor laws define how many hours is part time?
Different federal agencies handle the question of full-time and part-time hours differently.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) doesn’t define full-time or part-time employment. Instead, whether a job is considered full- or part-time is generally left up to the employer. The provisions of the FLSA apply to both full- and part-time workers. Part-time workers, for example, must be paid at least minimum wage.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA), on the other hand, does define full-time employment. Under the ACA, full-time employees work an average of at least 30 hours per week. Or, they work at least 130 hours per month.
Employers that have 50 or more full-time or full-time equivalent employees are considered applicable large employers (ALEs). ALEs must offer minimum essential health insurance to 95% of their full-time employees (as defined above) or pay a fine. They are not required to offer insurance to part-time employees. This ACA provision is an exception to the general rule that employers are not legally required to offer health insurance.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics defines part-time workers as those who usually work fewer than 35 hours per week. However, this definition is used only for statistical purposes. It has no legal effect.
How many hours must you work to be considered a part-time worker?
While there is no definitive answer, part-time work is necessarily defined as anything less than full-time work. Generally speaking, employers consider a full-time employee as one who works 30-40 hours of work per week. In some companies, part-time employees may work 20 hours a week. In others, they may work less than 30. For purposes of ACA compliance, part-time work is defined as an average of less than 30 hours per week. However, this only matters for employers with 50 or more full-time employees.
Do part-time employees get benefits?
Except for large employers subject to ACA rules, employers generally are not required to offer benefits to their full-time employees. In the same way, part-time employees are not automatically granted benefits either. The majority of employers do opt to provide benefits to their full-time employees as a competitive measure. But this is not always the case with part-time employees.
Part-time positions have a lot of appeal in terms of flexibility and other advantages, even if they don’t provide benefits. The number of hours and the benefits provided, if any, can be negotiated. It’s important that expectations are clear.
Advantages of part-time jobs
For employers, hiring both full-time and part-time employees provides flexibility in scheduling. It also allows your company to minimize employee benefit costs, while maximizing efficiency.
For employees, a part-time job may be the ideal option to provide more time to devote to other areas. For example, part-time jobs offer a more flexible schedule. It gives parents more time with their children and saves the expense of outside childcare. A part-time position works well for college students or anyone needing more time to pursue an outside goal. Being a part-time employee may also provide an opportunity for an inexperienced worker to gain experience. In some cases, working multiple part-time jobs may provide an income greater than working a single full-time job.
In most situations, it’s up to employers to specify the number of hours that part-time and full-time employees work. While part-time work is usually considered 30-to-35 hours per week or less, that’s not set in stone. Employers can usually also decide whether to offer different benefit packages to full-time and part-time employees. Part-time workers, however, are still covered by Fair Labor Standards Act provisions, including minimum wage requirements. No matter how employers define part-time work, providing clear expectations to workers will help ensure good company morale.
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