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What should you look for when considering a full or part-time job?

If you’ve never worked a part-time job, there’s probably a lot you don’t know about the ins and outs of these positions. However, you may think you understand the differences between a full- and part-time job. What you may not realize is that the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which dictates employment law in the U.S., doesn’t really define the differences between part- and full-time jobs. That means different employers can vary their rules around full- and part-time jobs. How do these jobs differ?

What is the Difference Between Full- and Part-Time Jobs?

If the government doesn’t really define the difference between full- and part-time jobs, how do companies define these types of work designations? The answer is: It depends. Most companies require full-time employees to work between 32 and 40 hours per week. This is guaranteed work and it usually includes benefits like health insurance or a 401k.

Part-Time Jobs:

Part-time work, on the other hand, could be almost anything under 32 hours. You could be considered part-time if you are working 10-hours a week, for example. Unlike contract work, these can be guaranteed hours that you can count on in your paycheck—but they don’t have to be. They also can vary the hours that you work. For example, a part-time grocery store cashier may get 10 hours one week and 15 the next. They are still part-time or the hours they work could vary. Other companies set a guaranteed number of hours a week. Part-time workers, though, may pick up extra hours during the week. This gives you, as the worker, the chance to pick up extra money, say, when someone calls in sick or when there’s extra work to be done.

The biggest benefit of part-time work is the flexibility it offers you. Students or parents may pick up part-time work to supplement their primary job—which is going to school or being a parent, for example. High school students can sometimes pick up seasonal part-time work during spring break or over the holidays.

Full-Time Jobs:

Full-time jobs lack that flexibility, although you can sometimes pick your hours beyond nine to five, which is probably what you think of for these roles. You can do a 40-hour night/weekend shift, too, but that is understandably harder. The biggest benefit of a full-time job is the benefits themselves. These days, health insurance is wildly expensive, so having that as an employer benefit is a good thing if you need it.

How part vs. full-time workers is paid is another consideration. A part-time employee is always paid by the hour. A full-time worker could be hourly (nonexempt) or they might receive a salary (exempt) every week. The plus for nonexempt workers is that, if they work over 40-hours a week, they earn overtime at 1.5 times their hourly rate.

Again, since employers dictate these terms, you have options—but also the responsibility to understand the terms of the jobs you’re taking.

So, which is better for you?


If you’d like to talk about your options and your goals, your next step should be to contact IES. We offer free advice that can help lead you to the right job on your terms. Talk with us to find out how we can help advance your career.


 

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