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Differences Between Part-Time vs. Full-Time Hours in California

In California, many individuals work part-time hours instead of full-time for a variety of reasons, ranging from reduced hours to family or school commitments. The state labor code 515 (c) definition of full-time hours in California is 40 hours per week, and those who work less than 40 hours are defined as part-time workers. Although workers can be classified as part-time or full-time based on the above definitions, employers can designate full-time status to employees who work 30 hours or more per week.

While overall hours worked is the obvious difference between full-time and part-time employees, there are several additional factors that should be considered during the hiring process. Read on to learn more about part-time vs. full-time hours in California and how the determination factors into employee benefits, unemployment insurance and other areas.

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Affordable Care Act definition of full-time hours in California

The standard definition of full-time hours in California is between 32 and 40 hours per week. However, it’s important to note that after the implementation of the ACA, workers are considered part-time if they work less than 30 hours per week, and full-time if they work 30 hours a week or more.

This varies just slightly from the California labor code, and specific company policies and state laws may dictate that workers are considered full-time based on higher or lower hourly thresholds. With so much differing information, it’s important for employers to fully understand the hourly variations and what’s considered full-time in California when determining the status of potential new hires.

Benefits of working part-time vs. full-time hours in California

Part-time and full-time workers in California are entitled to various benefits when hired as W2 employees and required to fill out W4 forms to select withholding. Certain benefits are only provided to full-time workers, while others are available for all employees:

  • Sick leave:In California, both full-time and part-time employees are entitled to paid sick leave. After a person works with an employer for at least 30 days, they begin to accrue sick leave at one hour per every 30 hours worked.
  • Vacation pay: Employers in California aren’t legally required to provide paid time off or vacation pay. However, if an employer decides to offer this benefit, it can be made available to both full- and part-time employees.
  • Unemployment insurance: The California Employment Development Department allows both part-time and full-time workers to draw Unemployment Compensation. When applicable, employees can work part-time hours and collect unemployment for the days not worked.
  • Health insurance: The Affordable Care Act requires companies with a staff of 50 or more full-time employees to provide group health insurance. Since the ACA defines California full-time hours as 30 or more per week, this excludes part-time workers who put in fewer than 30 hours on a weekly basis.
  • Overtime: According to the Department of Labor, the Fair Labor Standards Act mandates that employees are entitled to time-and-a-half pay for any hours worked beyond 40 per week. This means that part-time employees who work less than 40 hours don’t receive overtime pay. However, if a designated part-time employee works more than 40 hours in any given week, they’re entitled to overtime pay.
  • Retirement plans: If an employer offers a retirement plan, they must offer it to both full-time and part-time employees. This requirement is outlined in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

Determining whether to hire a full-time or part-time worker

When it comes to choosing between hiring a full-time or part-time employee, here are a few factors to consider:

Assess projected workloads

First and foremost, it’s essential to determine a realistic number of hours in which an employee’s workload can be completed. One way to calculate the hours is by assessing the amount of time it’s taking current employees to complete each task. For example, if your employees are continually going into overtime to meet deadlines, this can indicate the need for a full-time employee vs. a part-time employee.

Consider your budget

If your company’s overall budget allows for a full-time employee and the workload is enough to fill a 40-hour workweek, it’s always best to offer a full-time instead of part-time position. This way, the work will be completed in a timely manner, and you don’t have to worry about missed deadlines or productivity issues due to lack of staff.

Healthcare and overtime

Benefits are an important factor to think about before hiring a full-time employee vs. a part-time worker. While certain benefits are legally required for employees who work between 30 and 40 hours per week, health care plans and overtime pay are requirements for employees working full-time hours in California. Determine whether your budget can handle these expenses before making a final decision.



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