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Full-time employment is employment in which a person works a minimum number of hours defined as such by his/her employer. Full-time employment often comes with benefits that are not typically offered to part-time, temporary, or flexible workers, such as annual leave, sickleave, and health insurance. Part-time jobs are mistakenly thought by some to not be careers. However, legislation exists to stop employers from discriminating against part-time workers so this should not be a factor when making decisions on career advancement. They generally pay more than part-time jobs per hour, and this is similarly discriminatory if the pay decision is based on part-time status as a primary factor. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not define full-time employment or part-time employment. This is a matter generally to be determined by the employer (US Department of Labor). The definition by employer can vary and is generally published in a company's Employee Handbook. Companies commonly require from 35 to 40 hours per week to be defined as full-time and therefore eligible for benefits.
Full-Time status varies between company and is often based on the shift the employee must work during each work week. The "standard" work week consists of five eight-hour days, commonly served between 9:00AM to 5:00PM or 10:00AM to 6:00pm totaling 40 hours. While a four-day week generally consists of four ten-hour days; it may also consist of as little as nine hours for a total of a 36-hour work week. Twelve-hour shifts are often three days per week, unless the company has the intention of paying out the employee overtime. Overtime is legally paid out anytime an employee works more than 40 hours per week. The legal minimum for overtime starts at Base Pay + One-Half. The increased payout is considered to compensate slightly for the increased fatigue which a person experiences on such long shifts. Shifts can also be very irregular, as in retail, but are still full-time if the required number of hours is reached. There are some situations where a person who needs full-time work is dropped to part-time, which is sometimes a form of constructive dismissal to avoid paying unemployment benefits to a laid-off worker.
Definitions by country
- Australia: around 35–40 hours
- Belgium: 38 hours
- Brazil: 40–44 hours
- Chile: 45 hours
- Denmark: 37 hours
- France: 35 hours (government-mandated)
- Germany: 35–40 hours
- Iceland: 40 hours
- India: 48 hours (as per the Factories Act 1948, an person cannot work for more than 48 hours in a week)
- Taiwan: 40 hours
- Israel: 43 hours
- Italy: 40 hours
- Netherlands: 35–40 hours
- Norway: 40 hours (often regulated to 37.5 excl. lunch break)
- Poland: 40 hours
- Russia: 40 hours
- Sweden: 40 hours (not formally defined)
- United Kingdom: 35 hours (not formally defined), 37.5 hours, or 40 hours contracts are all commonplace.
- United States: 30 hours or more, according to the definitions in the Affordable Care Act. "The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not define full-time employment or part-time employment. This is a matter generally to be determined by the employer."
“Full-time” can also be used in reference to a student (usually in higher education) who takes a full load of course work each academic term. The distinction between a full-time and part-time student varies markedly from country to country. As an example, in the United States a student is commonly defined as being in full-time education when they undertake 12 or more credit hours. This translates to 12 "hours" (often of 50 minutes instead of 60 minutes each) in class per week. "Lab hours" often count for less, only as one-half or one-third of a credit hour.
International students must maintain full-time status for student visas. Adult students (typically up to age 22 or 23) may also fall under their parents' health insurance (and possibly car insurance and other services) if they are full-time, except for one term per year (usually summer). Students may also be eligible for elected office in student government or other student organizations only if they are full-time. The Department of Labor has a full-time student program which allows employers to pay no less than 85% of the minimum wage to the student/employee.
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