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Part-Time vs. Full-Time Work Schedules | What’s The Difference?

Manager considering part-time vs. full-time schedules

Employers and employees alike often wonder what the difference is between part-time vs. full-time work schedules. And it really is no wonder because a lot depends on the part-time vs. full-time distinction.

In this article, the experts at Sling show you how the part-time vs. full-time classification affect everything from schedules and pay to benefits and taxes. Before we do that, though, it’s vital that you understand the legal definitions of each category.

What Is Full-Time Work?

Clock representing part-time vs full-time work hours

In 1940, Congress amended the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to limit the workweek to 40 hours. This quickly became the standard for defining a part-time vs. full-time work schedule.

Since then, various government departments have defined full-time status differently. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics defines “full-time” as 35 hours or more per week. The Affordable Care Act defines “full-time” as averaging 30 hours each week. And the Fair Labor Standards Act doesn’t even touch on numbers but simply states that the provisions apply to both part-time vs. full-time work schedules.

It’s important to understand that none of these definitions is legally binding. The only law on the books is the FLSA amendment that limits the workweek to 40 hours.

Additionally, that doesn’t mean that your employees can’t work more than 40 hours per week. It just means that if they do, they are entitled to overtime.

This gives employers significant freedom to define what full-time means to them. While some employers adhere to the 40-hour workweek as the definition of full-time, others lower that standard to 35, 32, or even 30 hours per week.

What Is Part-Time Work?

A part-time work schedule is one in which an employee works less than full-time. Yes, this is a vague definition, but it serves to illustrate the flexibility you have as an employer to designate what works for your business.

As you’ll see in the next section, a part-time employee is often disqualified from receiving certain benefits, so it’s essential to clearly define part-time vs. full-time according to the needs of your business.

A Warning About Part-Time vs. Full-Time Work Schedules

Regardless of how you define your part-time vs. full-time work schedule, it’s crucial that you don’t discriminate. For example, don’t make some of your waiters part-time (and deny them benefits), and other waiters full-time.

Similarly, avoid making all men part-time employees and all women full-time employees (or vice versa). That’s a recipe for legal trouble down the road.

Now that you understand the definition of part-time vs. full-time work, we’ll investigate what makes the two so different.

Part-Time Vs. Full-Time Work Schedules

1) Schedule

Part-time work schedules are typically more flexible. One week your employees may work four eight-hour days. Another week, they may work three ten-hour days. They may even work a rotating shift or the night shift if your business needs that.

Because of this flexibility, part-time work schedules are better for those going to school or for those who have another part-time job.

Full-time work schedules, on the other hand, are more stringent. Employees usually work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Sometimes, a full-time work schedule is four ten-hour days. Either way, a full-time work schedule demands that an employee be available all week.

2) Hours

Part-time vs. full-time work schedules are distinguished by the number of hours each employee is required to work. If you designate “part-time” as 32 hours or less, that doesn’t mean you have to schedule your part-time employee for the full 32 hours. Some weeks they may work all 32, while other weeks they may work less.

Full-time work schedules usually indicate that the employee will be working at least that many hours. So if “full-time” for your business means more than 32 hours, your full-time employees will be working that number consistently throughout the year.

Rarely does a full-time employee work three twelve-hour days followed by four nine-hour days. Most full-time employees will work a set number of hours Monday through Friday (or Saturday).

3) Pay

Employee holding money from her paycheck

Pay is one of the biggest differences between part-time vs. full-time work schedules. And it’s not necessarily about how much each employee is paid (a part-time employee can make just as much as a full-time employee). Rather, it’s about how that pay is calculated.

Part-time employees are most often paid by the hour. So if their pay rate is $10/hour and they work 30 hours in one week, you’ll pay them $300.

Full-time employees can also be paid by the hour, but they are sometimes instead paid a flat salary regardless of the hours worked in a week. So a full-time, salaried employee making $10/hour receives a paycheck for $450 whether they work 40 hours or 45 hours.

4) Benefits

Benefits are another major distinguishing factor between part-time vs. full-time work schedules. In general, part-time employees don’t receive benefits, such as health insurance, paid time off, retirement, and stock options.

Most businesses offer their full-time employees a compensation package that includes the above options as well as reimbursements for childcare, education, and fitness.

It’s important to note that benefits vary from employer to employer, and some are even moving toward offering their part-time employees the same benefits as their full-time employees.

5) Taxes

Business owner working on taxes

Both part-time and full-time employees are taxed in the same way. As an employer, you are required to withhold income taxes and Federal Contributions Insurance Act (FICA) taxes from every employee. You are also responsible for paying unemployment taxes and worker’s compensation benefits.

6) Job Security

Many employees consider a full-time job more secure than a part-time job. They see it this way because of the misconception that part-time employees make less money, don’t receive benefits, are less-highly trained, and are easier to replace. This isn’t always true.

Honestly, both part-time and full-time employees can be let go at any time. Neither classification offers more job security than the other.

Outline Your Policies In Your Employee Handbook

Regardless of whether you hire part-time employees, full-time employees, or a combination of both, be sure to list all of this information in your employee handbook. That way, each employee will know what to expect when you hire them to work and where to look for answers to common questions.

Additionally, be sure to update your employee handbook periodically. Review it with long-time employees during a staff meeting and with new hires during the onboarding process. When you do that, there will be no confusion about part-time vs. full-time work.

For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit today.

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