What Are the Benefits of Full-Time Employment Hours?
Updated 20 November 2020
The distinction between full-time hours and part-time working can be vital.
This is because it can determine the number of hours you are expected to work and the benefits you could receive, such as vacation time, health insurance and even retirement plans.
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not provide a legal definition as to what constitutes a full-time or part-time employee.
Instead, the Act allows individual employers to create their own interpretation, making the minimum hours for full-time employment rather unclear.
This can be confusing, especially if you believe that you should be allocated more benefits to correlate with the hours that you work.
It can be hard for workers to know what their employment rights are.
How Many Hours Is Full-Time?
Historically, we are used to working 40+ hours a week, broken down to 8.5 hours per day.
It is broadly thought that anywhere between 35 and 40+ hours per week could be considered full-time hours.
This is a perspective backed up by the Bureau of Labor Statistics which recommends that full-time employment should be for those working 35 or more hours per week.
However, employers can make their own decisions on what constitutes full-time job hours, and this can have significant implications when it comes to employee benefits.
Often, part-time workers receive few or no benefits at all. This was why the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) states that an employee who works over 30 hours a week should be considered as working full-time hours.
It means that more workers will gain eligibility to access health insurance under the ACA.
If you are unsure whether you are classed as a full-time employee or a part-time worker, the first place you should look is your contract or your employee policy manual.
It should clearly state your employment status and outline what benefits you should expect to receive (if any).
What Is the Difference Between a Full-Time and a Part-Time Employee?
There are few differences between those who work full-time hours and those who work part-time hours.
Broadly speaking, those on part-time contracts can expect to be required to work fewer hours during the week and they may not receive the same employee benefits as their full-time co-workers.
Since the last recession in 2008, more businesses have restructured their jobs so that they can employ more part-time workers.
This is because it can be significantly cheaper as they may not need to pay for the wide range of employee benefits that those working full-time hours could expect to receive.
What Benefits Should You Expect to Get When You Work Full-Time Hours?
If you choose to work full-time job hours, you should be compensated accordingly.
Many full-time contracts include employee benefits, such as:
- Vacation days
- Paid sick leave
- Medical insurance
- Dental insurance
- Vision insurance
- Retirement plans
If you are working in a full-time job, you can also expect to benefit from clear career progression plans and an opportunity to enhance your career prospects.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Working Full-Time Job Hours?
There are many different advantages and disadvantages to working in a job which requires full-time hours.
If you are struggling to decide which option is best for you, here is a short overview as to the pros and cons of working in a full-time position:
The Advantages of Working Full-Time Job Hours
If you work in a full-time role, you may find that you are paid via a salary rather than per hour.
This means that you have greater control over your income, and you are not reliant on specific hours or shifts being available.
Fixed Working Patterns
Most full-time employees will have fixed timetables for when they are expected to work.
You will likely be given an expected start/finish time which should be stated in your written contract.
This means that it’s much easier to plan your week and enjoy a positive work-life balance.
Eligibility for Overtime Payments
If you are paid hourly (rather than receiving a salary) and you work more than 40 hours per week, you may be eligible for overtime payments.
These are required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and ensure that employees are entitled to 1.5 times their hourly pay for every hour worked over 40+ hours in a week.
However, overtime payments will depend on whether you are classified as exempt or non-exempt.
Most full-time workers will be eligible for insurance benefits which may also be open to their families.
Having access to healthcare insurance can provide you with the peace of mind that you may not have to shell out for unexpected medical costs.
Greater Career Advancement Opportunities
As a full-time employee, you may find that you have greater access to promotion opportunities.
This can enable you to earn more money and take on greater responsibilities.
Your company may feel that because you are working full-time hours, you are more committed to your job and they may find that they are more inclined to invest in your career potential.
Although there are no federal requirements as to what constitutes paid vacation time, most US employers will offer a package which includes:
- Paid vacation (two weeks)
- Personal days (two days)
- Paid holidays (ten days incorporating federal holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, Independence Day, etc.)
- Paid sick leave (eight days)
Some employers may offer vacation time for part-time employees, although the amount may be adjusted pro-rata.
The Disadvantages of Working Full-Time Job Hours
Are You Professionally Challenged?
If you’re working in full-time employment for several years, it can become easy to feel like you are no longer professionally challenged.
You may find that although you enjoy the steady paycheck that comes with full-time job hours (particularly if you earn a salary), you will want to spread your professional wings and see what else your career can bring.
Your CV May Not Stand Out From Others
If you are working full-time hours, then you’ll be focused on your daily tasks.
You may not have the time to upskill yourself or get involved in additional work-related activities.
If you decide that it is the right time to look for a new job, you could be at a disadvantage because you don’t have the same skills as other candidates who may have worked within multiple companies.
Long Hours Can Lead to a Negative Work/Life Balance and Can Impact Your Family Life
Today’s workforces understand the value of outside pursuits. They realize that they need time away from the office to relax and unwind.
If your employer decides that 45+ hours are the minimum hours for a full-time job, then you could find that it’s increasingly difficult to switch off from work.
It can even have negative implications for your overall health.
For example, you may find yourself lethargic or increasingly stressed. You could put yourself at risk of a serious health condition.
Full-time job hours can also negatively affect your family life.
You may struggle to find time to spend with your children or your loved ones, as you will spend the vast majority of your time at work.
Many employees who work full-time hours start to feel overworked. As a result, their standards start to slip, and productivity begins to fall.
It’s important to ensure that you have a positive work/life balance if you wish to ensure that your work remains productive.
So, is it better to work full-time hours or remain working part-time in the US?
There is no right or wrong answer to this. Every person will have their own preferences as to what type of employment contract they are looking for.
Your choice may depend on what type of sector you work within; some professions, such as hospitality or retail, are more geared up to part-time work.
You may make your decision based solely on the number of hours worked vs the level of income offered.
It’s important to consider every different factor before deciding whether you wish to work full-time hours.
You may want to ask yourself the following questions:
Will full-time job hours allow me time to spend with my loved ones?
Will I feel professionally challenged and allowed to progress in my career?
Will there be opportunities to explore new areas of interest (either my professional or personal interests?)
Will the company benefits support my family (for example, healthcare insurance or retirement planning?)
Will the income be steady throughout the month or will it fluctuate depending on the number of shifts available?
If I have to work extended hours, will I be eligible for overtime payments?
Your decision may depend on what your employer decides are the minimum hours for a full-time contract.
If they decide that anything below 40 hours a week is part-time, then you may wish to look for an alternative job.
Because the hours are at the discretion of the employer, you may discover that another company could offer similar opportunities whilst classing you as a full-time employee. This would ensure that you are entitled to the wide range of company benefits available such as health insurance or vacation time.
However, you may decide that part-time work is the ideal solution for you. It could give you the chance to spend more time with your loved ones as well as the opportunity to spend time doing the things that you love.
Ultimately, the choice is yours.