The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not specify the requirements for a full time employee, leaving the matter to employers. The Department of Labor states, "Whether an employee is considered full-time or part-time does not change the application of the FLSA." That is, employers must follow the provisions of the FLSA for both full time and part time employees in matters such as minimum wages, overtime, and child labor.
Traditionally, 40 hours a week has been considered as "full time" employment; the Bureau of Labor Statistics defines full time as 35 or more hours a week, but this is just for statistical purposes, and is not a law. Many employers require fewer hours for full time status, such as 35, 32, or even 30 hours. Susan Healthfield, About.com Guide to Human Resources, notes that, "fewer hours is considered a non-standard benefit in some organizations."
As an employer, you have the right to designate what constitutes a full time employee, as long as you consistently apply your own criteria to all employees. Why Should I Designate "Full Time" Employee Status?
It is important to distinguish between full time and part time employees, because part time employees typically don't receive
- Paid time off, such as vacations or holidays
- Employee benefits such as health insurance
- And part time employees are often excluded from participation in employer retirement plans.