Remote Excellence Awards 2024 | Deadline closes 1 March 2024

Enter now

What is full time hours?

Understanding full-time hours is key for HR leaders to build a productive and successful global workforce.

  • What is full time hours?

  • How can HR leaders apply the concept of full-time hours in the workplace?

What is full time hours?

"Full-time hours" is a term used to designate the typical number of hours that an employee works in a week. In many countries, including the United States, full-time employment is typically defined as working 40 hours a week. However, it's important to remember that the definition of full-time hours can vary, depending on the laws and norms of different countries, industries, and even individual companies.

The definition of full-time hours becomes significant when working out benefits eligibility, labor laws, payroll calculations, and work-life balance policies for team members. By accurately understanding what constitutes full-time hours, an HR leader can ensure compliance with relevant laws, offer appropriate benefits, and maintain a fair working environment.

Moreover, full-time hours play a pivotal role in managing expectations between employers and employees. A shared understanding of the standard work hours helps in shaping an employee's responsibilities, tasks, and even job satisfaction levels. For HR leaders, this can directly contribute to recruitment and retention strategies, influencing the overall productivity and success of an organization.

Now, let's discuss the general approximation of full-time hours and how it might vary across the world. In the United States, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) doesn't define full-time employment in terms of hours. However, for purposes of the Affordable Care Act, it characterizes a full-time employee as someone who works an average of 30 hours per week. Most businesses, though, commonly accept 40 hours a week as full-time.

In contrast, in the European Union, the Working Time Directive caps the maximum average working week at 48 hours, including overtime. However, countries like France and Sweden have further limited the standard working week to 35 and 40 hours, respectively.

Australia defines a full-time employee as someone who works 38 hours a week. In Japan, the Labor Standards Act states that employers cannot make employees work more than eight hours per day and 40 hours per week without overtime.

These variances emphasize the necessity for HR leaders to familiarize themselves with the specific laws and practices around full-time hours in the regions their employees are based.

How can HR leaders apply the concept of full-time hours in the workplace?

How can HR leaders apply the concept of full-time hours in the workplace?

Here are a few steps HR leaders can take to apply the concept of full-time hours while managing a global team:

Research Local Labor Laws: If you're managing a global team, it's crucial to research and understand the labor laws of each country where team members work. This helps ensure legal compliance and informs decisions about employee benefits and compensation.

Clarify Expectations: Make sure to communicate what constitutes full-time hours in your organization, so employees know what is expected of them. This can be specified in your company handbook or employment contracts.

Ensure Fair Compensation: Once employees clearly understand full-time hours, ensure they are compensated fairly for their time. If they work more than the standard hours, consider their eligibility for overtime pay.

Promote Work-Life Balance: Recognizing full-time hours also means respecting employees' time off. Encourage a healthy work-life balance by discouraging excessive overtime and offering flexible working arrangements when possible.

Understanding and applying the concept of full-time hours is fundamental for any HR leader. By ensuring transparency and fairness in this area, you can contribute to a healthy, productive, and satisfied workforce, ultimately boosting the success and reputation of your organization.

What next?
Global considerations
  • Research local labor laws in every country or territory your team is based in,

  • Communicate your standard full-time hours clearly in the employment contract.

  • Ensure fair compensation, including overtime pay if applicable.

  • Promote work-life balance to avoid burnout.

Related articles