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Which benefits are associated with full-time hours?

How do employers define full-time hours?

How do exempt employees define full-time?


What are full time hours

In the United States, the "standard workweek" is 40 hours, with employees working five days a week, for eight hours a day. Some employers consider 37.5 hours to be full time, giving 30-minute unpaid lunch breaks each day, while others give an hour and consider 35 hours to be full-time. Some jobs may require more hours, and some jobs may require less, but 35 hours is considered to be full-time.

Working full-time has a few advantages:

  • Full-time workers are usually eligible for benefits like health insurance and paid vacation days
  • Full-time workers tend to have more job stability than part-time workers 
  • Finally, full-time work can provide a sense of structure and routine that can be beneficial to some people

Which benefits are associated with full-time hours?

Full-time employment is often used as the determining factor in considering whether employees are eligible for the following benefits: 

  • Vacation time
  • Sick Pay
  • Health insurance
  • Dental insurance 
  • Retirement Match
  • Stock Ownership Program

Besides what is mandated under federal law, employers have a great deal of flexibility when designing their benefits plans and what employees qualify.

How do employers define full-time hours?

Most employers in the United States consider full-time employment to be working at least 40 hours per week. Although some employers may define full-time employment as working fewer than 40 hours per week, and rather determine it by the number of shifts worked, this is generally less common.

Using the IRS methodology employers can determine full-time employees by the hours worked.

For purposes of the employer shared responsibility provisions, a full-time employee is, for a calendar month, an employee employed on average at least 30 hours of service per week, or 130 hours of service per month.

There are two methods for determining full-time employee status: 

  • The monthly measurement method, and 
  • The look-back measurement method. 

Under the monthly measurement method, the employer determines if an employee is a full-time employee on a month-by-month basis by looking at whether the employee has at least 130 hours of service for each month.

Under the look-back measurement method, an employer may determine the status of an employee as a full-time employee during what is referred to as the stability period, based upon the hours of service of the employee in the preceding period, which is referred to as the measurement period.

How do exempt employees define full-time?

Full-time employees are typically those who work at least 40 hours per week. However, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not define what full-time employment is for salaried employees. This means that employers can define full-time employment as they see fit for their business.

Some exempt employees are excluded from overtime regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and salaried employees must exercise independent judgment as they typically perform knowledge-based tasks which are difficult to track on an hour-by-hour basis.


It’s important to note that, even if an employer considers an employee to be full-time, the employee may not be entitled to the same benefits as other full-time employees. For example, an employee who works 35 hours per week may not be eligible for health insurance benefits if the employer only offers health insurance to employees who work 40 hours or more per week.

If you’re not sure whether you’re considered a full-time employee, it’s best to ask your employer.

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