One of the common questions that most people considering employment ask is; what is the difference between full-time and part-time jobs? Which one pays better?

For employers, one would want to know which one between the two will reduce recurrent expenditure and maximize business productivity.

Meaning of a full-time job

In 1940, Congress made changes to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Some of the changes made were on full-time working hours where it reduced to 40 hours per week. This Act later became the benchmark for defining part-time vs full-time work programs. Government departments and agencies have since come up with a different definition of a full-time job. For instance, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) describes “full-time” as working for 35 hours per week while the Affordable Care Act or ACA describes it as working for 30 hours per week.

The difference in meaning has given employers the freedom to determine what full-time and part-time means in their business. Some have stuck with 40 hours per week while others have reduced theirs to 30, 32, and 35 hours per week. Among all these definitions, the only legally recognized definition is the one from FLSA.

It is important to mention that the above-stipulated working hours don’t mean that employees should not work past the 40 hours per week mark. It means that if an employee works for more than 40 hours, then he should be compensated for working overtime.

What part-time work means

Part-time work means working for less than 40 hours a week. In most countries, part-time employees are not entitled to work benefits. It is therefore important that employers determine/define what part-time and full time means based on their business needs.

Is part-time better than full-time?

Well, each of these two work schedules has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, one advantage of a part-time job is that it is flexible. An employee, for example, can work for eight straight hours for four days the first week then 10 hours a week for three days come the second week. Because of this flexibility, part-time employees have a lot of free time which they can use for their own betterment e.g. going to school or even doing other part-time jobs.

On the other hand, a full-time work schedule is less flexible. Employees are required to work from 8 in the morning to 5 in the evening – beginning Monday to Friday. In some cases, employees are required to work for 10 hours per day for 4 days. Either way, one is required to be on duty every day of the week. Another benefit of working part-time is that you get to have more time with your family. This is the best option for family-oriented people, particularly those who would love to pick their children from school.

Working full-time has its advantages as well including; financial benefits (full employee benefits), vacation time, health insurance, and employee retirement benefits.

How many hours is part-time?

As stated earlier, a full-time employee is required to work for at most 40 hours per week. As for part-time worker, the required work-hours is not specified and therefore the employer is free to determine which positions to make part-time and which ones to remain full time. A part-time worker may be required to work for less than 30 or 35 hours per week or in some instances, he or she might be required to work fewer hours than full-time employees do. This might be as low as 20 hours per week. There is no specific stipulated work time in law for part-time workers in the U.S. It is therefore upon the employer to establish how many hours should be allocated for part time job based on resources, budget, and amount of time required to accomplish some tasks.

Why do employers prefer part-time and full-time?

Work hours: One of the main reasons why employers prefer part-time and full-time workers is because it gives them the option of choosing employees to work on night or evening shift. Most full-time employers prefer to work a day schedule but part-time workers are expected to be flexible and can work weekends and late hours.

Added talent and experience: Hiring a part-time employee also brings added talent and experience. For example, if you have just started a therapy practice and you have so many customers that you probably did not anticipate, you can hire a retired part-time therapist. With several years of experience, this therapist could even be more resourceful than your full-time employees.

Minimize workload:  Sometimes business can increase suddenly leaving your full-time employees overwhelmed. This can be both exhilarating and stressful at the same time, as you are forced to work extra hard to meet your client’s expectations and demands. During these early stages of your business, you might not have the longevity of demand and an additional income to enable you to hire a full-time employee. This is where part-time employees can come in to help keep your business flourishing.

Diversity: Another benefit of having both full-time and part-time employees is that it gives a small business an opportunity of having a bigger payroll. A larger workforce increases your business diversity. If for example, you have 6 workers on full-time employment, it is difficult to foster a diverse workplace. However, if you instead opt to hire three employees on a part-time basis and three on full-time employment, you can get people who can communicate to the varied demographic of your client base.

How many hours is full-time unemployment?

A person is considered unemployed if they have been actively looking for work for 4 weeks with no success. Actively looking for work means that;

  • you have directly contacted a potential employer or
  • have attended a job interview or
  • you have contacted a private or public employment agency or a friend or relative for a job

Additionally, you must have submitted resumes and placed some job applications to possible employers, answering or placing job advertisements, checking professional or union registers, and any other means of job search. There is no stipulated time during which if it elapses, you are considered fully unemployed.

In conclusion, partial or full-time employment debate has been there for a long time now. But, both types of work schedules have their pros and cons and as an employee or employer, it is only you who can decide which one suits you best.