What are my rights ifI am I being deprived of full-time benefits by being forced to work as a “part-time” hourly employee?

I work as a part-time hourly technology employee. I am a manager of another employee who is full-time salaried. This year I have worked approximately 37.5 to 40+ hours per week each 5 day week and 34 hours each 4 day week due to holidays. I am not paid for holidays (which there are many) and I get a pittance (15 hours/week) for my 2 weeks vacation. But my real concern is that as “part-time” I don’t qualify for maternity leave or other medical leave. I am willing to go full-time, and was given the impression that I would be going full-time with my review (which happened late this year, in mid-March).

Asked on March 25, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

There is actually no legal definition of "full-time" versus "part- time".  The difference in a job being full-time and part-time can be a matter of hours or not. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not define full-time employment or part-time employment. Instead, this is a matter to be typically determined by the employer.  This means that an employer can set their own definition for what part-time means.  So while traditionally, the 40-hour mark is considered to be full-time, it could be classified as part-time (in your case especially since you don't consistently work 40 hours per week). And vice versa, an employee could work 32 hours per week and be classified as being a Full-time employee.  Bottom line, such classifications are at an employer's discretion.  The only exceptions to this would be if there is a stated company policy covering this, or there is a union/employment agreement that governs, or this situation has arisen due to some type of discrimination.

Note:  If you're a non-exempt employee, you must be paid for all hours worked whatever they are classified to be; hours over 40, if any, must be paid as overtime.

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