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Full-Time vs. Part-Time: What You Need to Know

Laws are constantly changing and sometimes it's hard to keep up. Many employers have questions regarding full-time vs. part-time positions and what flexibility they have with making decisions about benefits, overtime pay, and other such issues. That's why we want to answer employers' most frequently asked questions regarding full-time versus part-time employees!

What are the hours of full-time versus part-time employees?

While this frequently changes depending on your state, you have some flexibility as to what you consider full or part-time. Depending on the business, you may consider full-time to be anywhere between 32 and 40 hours a week. The exception to this is the Affordable Care Act (ACA), in which case full-time is considered to be at least 30 hours a week. 

Is there separate onboarding paperwork depending on employment status?

Typically, all newly hired employees will fill out the same paperwork whether they're full-time or part-time. This paperwork is often required by federal, state, and local laws.

What is FTE and how does it work in conjunction with ACA?

Full-time equivalent, or FTE employees, are employees that work part-time, but are counted as full time under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) depending on how many other part-time employees work hours equivalent to full-time. Essentially what this means is if you have 20 part-time employees working 20 hours a week, you have the full-time equivalent of 10 employees. This becomes important when it comes to the need to offer health care to employees. If your company has over 50 employees, it is generally required to offer health care. This number is calculated based on how many FTE employees your company has. Make sure you're using the appropriate formula provided by the ACA to measure your FTE employees.

Does overtime pay depend on my classification of full-time employees?

If you consider 35 hours a week full-time, you may be wondering if you have to pay your employees for overtime if they go over the 35 hours. The answer – no! By law, the only time you have to pay overtime is if they're exceeding 40 hours a week, in which case you should plan to pay your employees 1.5 times their regular pay for every hour over 40.

​Are meal periods and breaks required?

Meal periods and breaks are typically required, but it heavily depends on your state and the average shift length. We highly recommend that you review your state's laws to determine what you are required to offer to your employees when it comes to breaks.

Do you need a vacation and sick leave policy?

When it comes to vacation time, this is at the discretion of the employer. While companies generally only offer vacation to full-time employees, they can choose to offer part-time employees what they feel is best. Sick leave, on the other hand, is required by several states contingent upon how many hours the employee works.

We hope this helped you clarify what you're doing right and what you may need to work on. If you need an HR consultant to walk you through this process and what will be best for your business, contact us!

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