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Full Time and Part Time Employment Disputes

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What’s the Difference Between Full Time and Part Time Employment?

A commonly raised question in employment law is regarding part versus full time employment.  In general, full time employment is defined as a standard 40-hour work week.  This is your typical M-F, 40 hour work week.  In most states, “part-time” is usually any work week that is less than 40 hours a week.  Some states place the maximum hours at 30 hours per week, but this may vary by state.

What are Typical Full Time and Part Time Employment Disputes? 

One of the main considerations in this area of employment law has to do with overtime pay.  Most states only require employers to pay employees overtime wages if they are considered full time employees, and have worked more than 40 hours a week.  That is, part-time employees who work less than 40 hours a week may not be entitled to overtime pay. 

Generally speaking, part-time employees are classified as “exempt” employees, meaning that they are exempt from overtime pay requirements.  However, some employees who work less than 40 hours a week can still qualify for overtime pay depending on the type of work that they actually perform.  This can be quite confusing and complicated depending on state employment laws. 

Another type of legal issue is with general wage and hour claims.  Some part-time employees may often have complaints with the way that their wages or hours are calculated.  These types of disputes can lead to a wage and hour lawsuit, which is a common type of legal claim.  Discrimination against part-time employees can also occur.

Do Part-Time Employees Have the Same Rights as Full Time Employees?

Generally speaking, part-time employees don’t have the same rights as full time employees.  Full-time employees are generally entitled to benefits such as medical and dental insurance, vacation with pay, career advancement, and retirement options.  Part-time employees don’t always have access to these types of benefits.

However, it will all of course depend on the individual arrangement between employer and employee.  State laws generally don’t prohibit employers from extending such benefits to part-time workers.  For instance, the employer and employee may work out an agreement for specific rights and benefits within their employment contract.  In fact, employee rights and benefits are often a main negotiating point when it comes to employment contracts.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Part Time or Full Time Employment Disputes?

Employment disputes can often be resolved through the assistance of the company’s human resources department, or through the help of a government agency.  These types of processes may require the assistance of a lawyer, especially if issues like wrongful termination or lost wages are at play.  You may wish to hire a lawyer if you need to file a claim or if you need to file a lawsuit.  Your attorney can guide you through the process and represent you during court hearings.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 06-16-2014 11:39 AM PDT

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