part-time employees

Are employers at liberty to set any number of hours when classifying someone as part time? For instance, our full-time employees work 40 hours, could we designate that a part-time employee would be someone who works less than 40 hours per week? Or should we be more specific and say that a part-time employee is someone who works (32, or 30) hours per week? Thank you.


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  • Our handbook defines full-time employees as those who are regularly scheduled to work 30 hours or more per week. Anyone regularly scheduled for less than 30 hours is considered part-time. The distinction in our company is necessary for determination of benefits. (We also distinguish between regular and seasonal employees for purpose of benefits.)
  • The definition of part time varies among employers. You're at liberty to define yours. I think the numbers most typically used are 32 and 30. The State of Mississippi defines its own part time employees as those working less than 40. It sometimes ties in with your group insurance definition too.
  • We only guarantee hours for full-time ees (40 hours). Part-time ees are told upfront that we do not guarantee a set number of hours for them. We explain that hours are assigned based on business needs and the ee's availability. If they are available to work when needed, they will receive hours. During less busy times of the years, part-time ees know that hours are harder to come by. When business is heavier, then they can look for hours to increase. Not having a defined number of hours is beneficial to us due to the business(es) we operate.
  • I concur with the others, tie it into benefits to draw your lines. Most of our benefits are at 40+ hours, insurance is 35. For vacation/incentive hours, we say PT'ers at less than 40 but more than 20 get half, less than 20 hours/week get skunked. :>)
  • For paid time off including holidays (& other "fringe" benefits), you gotta be scheduled for 40 hours. For insurance purposes, we'll let you work down to 30 hours only because that's what the insurance company says. But we don't have any part timers that work over 25 hours per week, so it hasn't been an issue. Most of our ees work either 20 or 40 hours. I've often thought of suggesting the proration of benefits based on number of hours, but it seems too confusing (basic math has never been my forte - but throw me a calc problem and I'll fly with it).
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