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January 1, 2024

What is Considered Full Time in California in 2024?

Legally reviewed by: Jessica Anvar Stotz, JD, MBA

In the state of California, full-time employment generally refers to working 40 hours or more per week. When it comes to part-time work, there is no definition provided by California law that specifies a set number of hours. As a result, the determination of part-time hours can vary depending on the employer and the industry.

Federal law may offer employees additional benefits based on the number of hours they work each week. For healthcare benefits, federal law may require employers to provide them to employees who work more than 30 hours per week. Retirement benefits may also be available to employees who work more than 19.5 hours per week in California.

Examples of Full Time Employees Being Misclassified

Example #1

Sarah is hired as a marketing specialist by a large corporate company called ABC Corporation. During the hiring process, the company verbally informs Sarah that the position is part-time, with 20 hours per week. Sarah agrees to the terms, assuming that she will have a work-life balance while pursuing her personal projects.

However, as Sarah starts working, she quickly realizes that the workload and responsibilities assigned to her are equivalent to those of full-time employees. She is consistently required to work more than 40 hours per week to meet deadlines, attend meetings, and complete various marketing campaigns.

Despite her increased workload and the company’s reliance on her expertise, Sarah continues to receive part-time employee benefits, such as reduced pay, limited access to healthcare benefits, and no paid time off. Additionally, she is excluded from employee development programs, team-building activities, and other corporate events that are typically extended to full-time employees.

Over time, Sarah becomes increasingly dissatisfied with her employment situation. She feels exploited and undervalued, as her efforts and commitment are not adequately recognized or compensated.

She decides to research her employment rights and consults with a labor attorney, who confirms that based on the nature of her work and the number of hours she consistently puts in, Sarah should be classified as a full-time employee.

Armed with this information, Sarah approaches her manager to discuss her concerns and request a change in her employment status to full-time. She provides evidence of her workload, the responsibilities she has undertaken, and the amount of time she spends working beyond the agreed-upon part-time hours.

Upon reviewing Sarah’s documentation, the manager realizes that the company has indeed misclassified her as a part-time employee. The manager apologizes for the oversight and acknowledges Sarah’s contributions, promising to rectify the situation immediately.

Sarah is officially reclassified as a full-time employee, gaining access to all associated benefits, including a salary adjustment to reflect her increased workload.

In this example, the employer’s misclassification of Sarah as a part-time employee deprived her of fair compensation and essential benefits. Such misclassifications can be costly for employees and may lead to legal action or damage the employer’s reputation if not resolved appropriately.

Example #2

John works as a nurse at a renowned hospital called XYZ Medical Center. When he was hired, he was informed that he would be a part-time employee, working 25 hours per week. However, once John started his job, he realized that he was consistently scheduled for 40 hours or more each week due to staff shortages and high patient demands.

Despite working full-time hours, John only receives part-time benefits, such as limited access to healthcare coverage, reduced vacation days, and no retirement plan contributions. He is also excluded from training programs and professional development opportunities offered to full-time staff.

As John becomes aware of the misclassification, he gathers evidence of his work hours, scheduling patterns, and the responsibilities he handles. He raises his concerns with the hospital’s administration, providing documentation to support his claim that he should be classified as a full-time employee.

Recognizing the error, the hospital acknowledges the misclassification and apologizes to John. They promptly adjust his employment status to full-time, ensuring that he receives the corresponding benefits and fair compensation for his work.

In this healthcare setting example, the employer’s misclassification of John as a part-time employee resulted in him being denied crucial benefits and opportunities. Rectifying the misclassification allows John to receive the compensation and recognition he deserves while maintaining his commitment to providing quality healthcare services.

Example #3

Emily is hired as a sales associate at a popular retail store called Fashion Trends. During the hiring process, she is informed that the position is part-time, with a maximum of 20 hours per week. However, once Emily starts working, she realizes that she consistently exceeds the agreed-upon hours due to the store’s high customer traffic and staffing needs.

Despite working full-time hours, Emily is only classified as a part-time employee, which means she receives reduced pay, limited access to employee benefits, and no paid time off. Additionally, she is excluded from team meetings, performance evaluations, and advancement opportunities typically available to full-time staff.

Frustrated by the situation, Emily gathers evidence of her work hours, schedule, and responsibilities, and raises her concerns with the store manager.

After reviewing the documentation and acknowledging the misclassification, the manager apologizes to Emily for the oversight and rectifies her employment status, officially classifying her as a full-time employee. Emily now receives the appropriate compensation and benefits, allowing her to feel valued and supported in her role.

In this retail setting example, the employer’s misclassification of Emily as a part-time employee resulted in her being deprived of fair pay, benefits, and professional development opportunities. Correcting the misclassification ensures that Emily is appropriately compensated for her work and has access to the same benefits and growth opportunities as her full-time counterparts.

How Does Overtime Work?

Overtime is a concept that comes into play when employees work beyond the established standard working hours. The purpose of overtime is to compensate employees for the extra time and effort they put into their work. While the specific rules and regulations regarding overtime can vary depending on the jurisdiction and industry, there are some common principles that apply in many countries.

Typically, overtime eligibility is determined based on whether an employee is classified as exempt or non-exempt. Non-exempt employees are generally entitled to overtime pay, while exempt employees may be exempt from overtime provisions.

Exempt employees often include certain salaried or executive positions that are not subject to the same overtime regulations as non-exempt employees. Properly classifying employees is critical for employers to ensure compliance with overtime laws.

In California, full-time employment is defined as working 40 hours per week, according to the California Labor Code Section 515(c). However, it is important to distinguish this definition from the regulations set forth by the Affordable Care Act. Under the Affordable Care Act, full-time workers are those who work a minimum of 30 hours per week.

how many hours is full-time in california

Differences in Benefits for Part Time and Full Time Employees in California

Full-time employees generally enjoy a broader range of workplace benefits compared to their part-time counterparts, including healthcare coverage, retirement plans, and other perks. While part-time employees may not receive the same level of benefits, federal regulations provide certain protections.

According to federal law, if you work more than 30 hours per week, you may be entitled to healthcare benefits from your employer. This means that even though California lacks a precise definition for part-time hours, exceeding the 30-hour threshold could make you eligible for healthcare coverage. Note that legally, full time hours in California are 30 working hours per week.

Similarly, federal regulations extend protections to retirement benefits. If you work more than 19.5 hours per week, you may become eligible for employer-provided retirement benefits.

These benefits offer financial security and help you plan for retirement, regardless of the specific part-time hour thresholds set by California. By considering federal regulations, part-time employees can still access valuable benefits and safeguards.

What Can You Do if Your Employer is Misclassifying You as Part-Time?

If you believe your employer has misclassified you as part-time, there are steps you can take to address the situation. Start by collecting evidence such as contracts, schedules, and any relevant communications that demonstrate you work California full time hours.

It is advisable to consult with an employment attorney who specializes in labor law to understand your rights and legal options. Additionally, you can discuss your concerns with your company’s human resources department to see if the issue can be resolved internally.

If the misclassification persists and your rights continue to be violated, you may need to file a complaint with the appropriate government agency responsible for enforcing labor laws. Be sure to document any instances of retaliation, and if necessary, you can consider taking legal action with the guidance of your attorney. You should seek advice that is specific to your jurisdiction as labor laws can vary.

Ask an Attorney Your Questions Today

If you have questions or concerns about labor issues in the Los Angeles area, LawLinq is here to assist you. Our primary goal is to connect you with experienced labor law attorneys who specialize in various aspects of employment law, ensuring you receive expert guidance tailored to your specific needs.

By contacting LawLinq, you gain access to our extensive network of thoroughly screened and vetted attorneys. We understand the complexities of labor law and the importance of finding the right legal representation. Our referral service simplifies the process, saving you valuable time and effort in searching for a qualified attorney on your own.

Let LawLinq be your trusted partner in finding the right labor law attorney and obtaining the guidance you need. Contact us to connect with a skilled attorney who will work diligently to protect your rights and interests, at no cost or obligation today.

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About the Author

Jessica Anvar

California Consumer Litigation Attorney Jessica Anvar, Esq. is the Founder and Managing Partner of Lemon Law Experts California’s leading lemon law firm. She has multiple years’ worth of experience working with both state and federal lemon laws. Her practice focuses exclusively on consumer protection cases. Ms. Anvar received her J.D. from Loyola Law School. She also earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Loyola Marymount University. Jessica is very active in her local legal community and has helped thousands of clients across the state of California. She has an outstanding record as a true advocate for consumers.

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