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

UPDATED: Aug 12, 2011

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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


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

Answered 11 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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