Full-time hours vs. part-time hours: What you need to know
Not quite sure how your job is classified?
For most roles, it all comes down to the amount of hours you work. Every type of contract will have it’s advantages, but knowing the difference between full-time and part-time is essential to finding the perfect fit for your schedule.
To help you get started, here’s everything you need to know about full-time hours and part-time hours – and how to work out which one is right for you.
What are full-time hours?
Most employers generally agree that full-time work is anything around 35 hours and above.
However, there’s actually no official amount of hours which classifies a job as being full-time, and it could drop as low as 30 hours per week for some roles (which is why this is often considered the minimum).
This may also vary depending on the industry you work in. So it’s always important to check with your employer to find out what they see as being full-time.
How many hours is part-time?
Part-time hours can be anywhere from a few hours a week, right up to 35 hours.
As with full-time hours, there’s no official classification. But no matter how many hours you work, employers must treat you the same as a full-time employee.
What are my rights as a part-time worker?
Part-time workers have all the same rights as a full-time worker, meaning that they can’t be treated less favourably than their colleagues – even if they work fewer hours.
That means that part-time staff should be treated the same for:
- Rates of pay (including redundancy and sick pay)
- Holiday and leave (including maternity/paternity leave etc.)
- Pension entitlement
- Training and career development opportunities
- Promotion opportunities
Some factors, such as overtime pay or health insurance, may differ for part-time workers. Similarly, certain bonuses may be offered ‘pro rata’ (meaning they’re given in proportion to the hours you work).
This should be covered in your employment contract, or during the onboarding process.
What are the most hours you can work?
The maximum number of hours you can work per week is 48 hours (averaged over a period of 17 weeks).
However, there are some exceptions to this. For example, you can choose to ‘opt out’ of the weekly limit, if you want to work more.
Some jobs may also require you to exceed the maximum number of working hours. Examples include:
- The armed forces
- The emergency services
- Some security and surveillance positions
- Sea fishing
- Other positions which may require 24 hour staffing
The maximum amount will also vary if you’re under 18.
For more information about how many hours you can work, visit gov.uk/maximum-weekly-working-hours.
Advantages of working full-time hours
Obviously, full-time positions will only work for those who can commit that amount of hours every week – meaning it won’t be an option for everyone.
However, there are a number of benefits for those who can work full-time, including:
- Higher income
- Full bonuses
- Higher pension contributions
- Possibility of health insurance, and other benefits
- More on-the-job experience
Advantages of working part-time hours
For certain people, working part-time may be the obvious choice when it comes to their lifestyle – whether it’s juggling family commitments, studying, or anything else.
Some great benefits of working part-time include:
- Better work-life balance
- Saving on childcare/commuting costs
- Trying an industry before fully committing
- Opportunities for overtime
- Potentially less stressful than being full-time
What other types of employment contracts are there?
Aside from full-time and part-time, there are a number of other contracts you could be employed on.
These include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Fixed term contracts
- Temporary contracts
- Agency contracts
- Freelance contacts
- Zero hour contracts
To find out more about each of the above, read our quick guide on the different types of employment contracts.
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