Getting a Job

What is Considered Full Time?

Quick Navigation:


When searching for a job, many people look for a full-time position. Full-time employees typically get benefits such as health insurance and vacation time that does not come with part-time positions. In some companies, full-time employment means guaranteed hours or schedules that might not be available with part-time employment. Working full-time can also offer perks such as pay raises and more money on your paycheck each pay period. This article shares the details for everything you need to know about full-time employment. 

What is considered full-time hours?

In many businesses, full-time employees are considered to be the ones who work 30 to 40 hours per week. This is not a definite number, as laws and policies vary by state, company and business needs. The Affordable Care Act considers an employee to be full-time if they work over 30 hours per week. Employers are required to let employees know how they define full-time vs. part-time employment in their employee handbook, so an employee knows when they qualify for benefits through the company. 

One way to reach full-time status is to choose one set shift and then work those hours. Typical shifts run for eight, 10 or 12 hours. If you work a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. shift for five days a week, that would be 40 hours and would be considered full-time for insurance purposes. 

If your job does not have set shifts, working any set combination of hours up to what your employee handbook considers full-time will also put you at full-time employee status. Some jobs consider full-time employees those who have worked a certain number of hours per year. For insurance purposes, this will average to 35 hours per week or more. 

It is important for you to read your employee handbook to find out what your company considers to be a full-time employee. Some companies offer benefits such as insurance to employees working less than 35 hours per week. Company policies will vary. If you are seeking full-time employment, be sure to ask prior to accepting a position if the position is full-time or part-time. 

What benefits will I receive for working full-time?

Employers are required to offer certain benefits to their employees. Other benefits are given voluntarily as a perk of choosing to work for a company. Most benefits are offered after an employee has worked at a company for a set amount of time. This can be anywhere from 90 days to a year. 

The benefits you receive will vary by employer, but some benefits you might expect are:

Sick leave

Some states are required to allow an employee sick leave. This typically occurs after an employee has worked a certain number of hours and has allowed this time to build up. Some states are not required to offer employees sick leave at all. Though this is not a requirement of some states, many companies offer this benefit to their employees as a perk.

Retirement plans

Employers are not required to offer their employees a retirement plan. When companies do offer them, it is voluntary. When an employer offers a retirement plan, look over the logistics of the plan, as they can vary from company to company. Some retirement plans can be transferred to another company. Some businesses match their employees’ contributions to a certain amount into their retirement plans. 

Paid time off or vacations

Employers are not required to provide vacations or paid time off. However, many do offer this benefit as a perk of working for their organization. Some employers have the option of using your paid time off or cashing it in and still working. Sometimes vacation time will build year after year. Your employer might have a policy of one week of vacation after the first year and adding another week for each year. This all depends on your employer. 

Maternity and paternity leave

Under the Family Medical Leave Act, employees qualify for leave if they have been employed by the company for 12 months prior to the leave, they have worked 1,250 hours in the year prior to when the leave is needed and the company has 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius of the business. This leave may be taken for conditions such as the birth or adoption of a child; illness of a spouse, child or parent; an employee’s own illness or to transition employees whose spouse has been called into active duty. 

Worker’s compensation

This benefit pays for medical bills and services of an employee who has been injured in the workplace. There are steps and protocols that must be completed before worker’s compensation is paid. Employees are typically required to pass a drug screening, and reports are filled out to determine that the accident was caused in and by the workplace. Worker’s compensation will cover a number of items if approved, such as physical therapy, money paid to cover lost wages, surgeries or even certain items that will accommodate you when you return to work. 

Health insurance

Companies with 50 or more employees must offer health insurance to any employee who works over 35 hours per week. This coverage must also cover their dependents.

What are some misconceptions about full-time employment?

Some of the common but erroneous beliefs about full-time employment benefits include:

Guaranteed vacation time

Employers are not required by law to give you vacation time or paid time off. Many companies will let you know what benefits they offer during your interview. 

Guaranteed retirement benefits

Companies are not required by law to provide any type of retirement benefits. Many companies do provide either a 401(k) or employee contribution program to help with retirement, but it is voluntary. 

Guaranteed breaks

State laws vary on this particular item. Many states require all employees regardless of full-time or part-time status to have at least one break during a 10-hour or longer shift. This is not a federal law, however, and you should check into your own state laws to determine their requirements.

More Stories
Answering the Trickiest Interview Questions With Confidence