If I am a part-time employee working full-time hours, can I demand to receive the same benefits a full-time employee?

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If I am a part-time employee working full-time hours, can I demand to receive the same benefits a full-time employee?

I have been working for 8 months now as a part-time employee. However I have worked 40 plus hours every weeks for this 8 months. In fact, the first 4 months I actually was scheduled a 40 hour week but they made us drop back to only able to be scheduled 32 hours (but we could sill work more hours if desired). I am told that I can demand benefits legally from the company. Is this true?

Asked on August 12, 2011 Ohio

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Contrary to what most people believe there is no actual legal definition of "full-time" versus "part-time".  The fact of the matter is that the difference between the 2 can be a matter of hours or not. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does no definition of  full-time employment or part-time employment. Instead, this is a matter typically left to be determined by each employer.  In other words, an employer can set its own definition of what part-time/full-time means. Therfore, while the 40-hour mark is traditionally considered to be full-time, it could be classified as part-time (and conversely under 32 hours a week could be considered to be full-time). 

Bottom line, such classifications are much at an employer's discretion.  There are, however, exceptions to this. Such as, if there is a stated company policy covering this, or there is an employment contract or union agreement that governs, or this situation has arisen due to some type of actionable discrimination.

Note:  If you are a non-exempt employee (i.e. hourly), all hours worked over 40 must be paid as overtime.


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