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How Many Hours a Week is Full Time Employment?

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Female hand making fifth tally mark on blackboard, close-up

The number of hours considered full-time varies by employer.

Jeffrey Coolidge

Question: How Many Hours a Week is Full Time Employment?

Not sure how many hours a week you are expected to work when you are a full time employee? Here's information on full time employment, including laws regulating hours worked, hours companies expect employees to work and overtime pay requirements.

Answer: How many hours a week are you expected to work if you are a full time employee? Even though many people consider 40 hours a week full time, the number of hours you are expected to work can vary depending on your employer. In some cases, it's less, for other employers, it can be more.

Employment Law Regulating Hours Worked

There is no universally accepted or government set definition for full time employment. Individual employers are free to set standards for their own workforce. There are a few exceptions whereby states set a maximum number of hours that can be worked in specific occupations like healthcare. In those cases, full time employment must fall at or below those maximums.

The Fair Labor Standards Act dictates that employers must pay non-exempt employees time and one half for any hours worked above 40 per week.

Company Policy

Company policy determines the hours that employees are expected to work. The company may specify a set number of hours and, optionally, what your work schedule will be. For example, your employee handbook may specify 9 am - 5 pm or simply state 45 hours per week.

Official employer designations regarding full time employment generally range from 35 - 45 hours, with 40 hours being by far the most common standard. I've heard of some companies that consider 50 hours a week full time for exempt employees.

Informal expectations for staff can differ markedly from the minimum hours required to be classified as full time at that organization. If the work schedule hasn't been clarified when you are interviewing for a job, carefully investigate what is expected for successful employment at the company if you have concerns about maintaining a balanced life style.

Ask about the hours you will be expected to work when you have a job offer in hand. Before you accept the offer, be sure that you can commit to the number of hours per week you will be expected to work.

Read More: What is a Part Time Job? | What is a Full Time Job? | How Much Do I Get Paid for Overtime? | Types of Work Schedules

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