What is a Full-Time Job?

At a glance

Full-time jobs require working 40 hours each week, although it can vary by state, starting at 30 hours.

Published on:
April 18, 2024

Understanding Full-Time Employment

Full-time work involves working a specific number of hours every week. The employer determines this number and must follow state and federal laws. Employers often set this standard at 40 hours per week.  

However, the amount of hours can change. Some definitions start at 30 hours per week. Sometimes, definitions vary to offer health benefits under policies like the Affordable Care Act in the United States.  

Variation by State

While federal laws provide a baseline, state laws can offer additional protections or definitions for full-time employment. These variations can impact how businesses operate across state lines, affecting benefits eligibility and overtime calculations. Employers must be aware of these differences to ensure compliance and avoid penalties. Here are some resources to help you determine what the laws are in your state:    

IRS: Identifying full-time employees  
US Department of Labor: Full-time employment  
UpCounsel: How many hours is considered full-time  

The diversity in state laws regarding full-time employment highlights the importance of localized knowledge for businesses to navigate these regulations effectively.     

Historical Context and Evolution

The concept of full-time employment has evolved alongside labor laws and economic shifts. Initially, the lack of strict regulation of work hours led to excessively long workdays.  


The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was established in 1938, and created rules for minimum wage, overtime pay, and the number of hours in a workweek. It sets the minimum wage that employers must pay their employees. It also requires employers to pay overtime for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek. Over time, these standards have adapted to economic changes, societal norms, and healthcare legislation.

The evolution from unregulated work hours to establishing the standard workweek underscores a societal shift towards protecting workers' rights and well-being.

Advantages of Full-Time Employment

Full-time employees receive health insurance, paid time off, and retirement plans. Part-time workers typically do not receive these benefits. For employers, offering full-time positions can attract a more stable and committed workforce, improving productivity and reducing turnover.    

Full-time employment benefits employees and employers by providing a stable work environment and access to comprehensive benefits, fostering loyalty and productivity.

Challenges and Considerations

Navigating the complexities of full-time employment laws requires diligent management. Employers must balance operational needs and compliance rules, which can be challenging for small businesses with limited HR resources. The gig economy and flexible work arrangements have blurred the lines between full-time and part-time work. This has led to the need for more complex management strategies. 

The dynamic nature of work and evolving employment laws demand a proactive approach from employers to manage their workforce effectively within legal bounds.

Best Practices for Small Businesses

Understanding and adhering to federal and state full-time employment laws is crucial. Small businesses need clear rules for employees. They should also stay updated on labor laws. Also, they should consider full-time staff to get better employees and keep them longer.    


Staying informed and compliant with employment laws protects businesses from legal issues and enhances their reputation as a fair and desirable employer.    

The Future of Full-Time Employment

The landscape of full-time employment continues to evolve with technological advancements, changing workforce expectations, and legislative updates. Employees value flexibility and work-life balance more, affecting how businesses define full-time work and provide benefits to workers.    


The future of full-time employment will likely see further integration of flexibility and employee well-being into traditional employment models, challenging businesses to adapt while maintaining compliance and competitiveness.    
Main takeaway

For small businesses, navigating the complexities of full-time employment and its legal variations is essential. Companies can succeed by following laws, attracting talent, and creating a productive work environment. This helps them compete effectively and keep employees happy.

About the author

Casey Pontrelli

Casey Pontrelli is a multi-talented professional with a background in content creation, branding, and social media marketing. Whether writing for a newspaper, eCommerce website, B2B startup, or a marketing agency, she has taken her strong background in journalism and turned her focus to SEO and content marketing. She’s written about everything from boutiques to cars to small businesses, and enjoys most when she knows her writing has had an impact. When she’s not writing up a storm or creating attention-grabbing social media posts, Casey enjoys hanging out with her two cats, Eddy and Larry, going on long walks in the Green Belt, and, predictably, reading.

Try ReadySetHire Today
Writing job descriptions, filtering applications, and organizing interviews can be daunting. ReadySetHire’s automated tools transform these challenges into a seamless experience, saving you time and effort.
Start Your Free Trial