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What criterion does or should constitute a full time employee?

Updated on February 26, 2013

One of the major criteria and possibly the only criteria determining what constitutes a full time employee is a total of 30 hours or more. This is part of the new healthcare law passed by Congress. Typically under the Fair Labor Standards Act there is no designation of what constitutes a full time employee as it leaves the matter to be determined by the employer. This little known provision has surfaced when looking at the requirements in the healthcare legislation taking effect in 2013 and 2014. Many businesses are upset as a full time employee was left up to employers. This control was removed through the healthcare law.

Businesses are not setting still as some have requested this distinction be changed. The question to be asked and answered concerns the impact of this new requirement previously never imposed on businesses through federal legislation. Today the unemployment picture is a bleak one at best with millions of individuals out of work and looking for income to take care of their families. There are good provisions within the healthcare law and then there are some bad ones. The rule defining what constitutes a full time employee is shaking up businesses across the country.

There is no doubt that there will be some increased employment to some extent resulting from this new government rule but the employment will not be full time but part time. Companies will and have cut back on the hours they allow their employees to work and have moved from full time employees to part time employees. The media keeps talking about the increase in jobs in various parts of the country but they never seem to say whether they are full time or part time only that there are jobs. Granted those individuals without a job are looking for anything to feed and provide for their families so the opportunity to be hired is on the increase but it is an increase in part time jobs not full time.

There are some exceptions under the legislation in requiring employers provide healthcare insurance in that seasonal jobs do not come under the rule and its requirements. Designating full time positions as an employee working 30 or more hours is changing the way businesses across the country operate. Whether it is a good thing or bad one will be left up to the public to decide. The request to make a change to this rule is an effort to give back control to businesses in determining what constitutes a full time employee. Clearly there are some untended changes/requirements within the healthcare legislation and there are some efforts to address requirements that either need clarification or revision.

Some changes or interpretations to the healthcare legislation may be possible without creating an amendment to the legislation while others will require an amendment. The Fair Labor Standards Act when it was created brought under its jurisdiction rules governing standards for employees which businesses are in compliance. Whether the definition of a full time employee can be altered with an interpretation is unknown but clearly this is one aspect of the law affecting how businesses operate. Businesses must be encouraged to expand and hire not be encouraged to find ways around government legislation. Granted there are rules and regulations currently in place which businesses must tread lightly to avoid being non-compliant. Two questions are involved with the definition of a full time employee. One is what method is required to make this kind of change to the healthcare law and the other is whether the healthcare law overrides the Fair Labor Standards Act which has been around for decades. It is true that the definition of a full time employee is not included in the Fair Labor Standards Act but the reason cited is that it leaves it up to businesses to determine what is a full time employee.

As previously stated there are efforts to get the definition of a full time employee changed. Whether this can be accomplished by changing the interpretation or whether an amendment to the legislation is required is not known at this time. It is clear that some businesses are changing the way they operate by having more part time employees than full time. Government cannot require businesses to have a certain amount of full time employees. The change in the operation of businesses is legal and does not violate this element of the legislation. The rule comes into play when they have a certain amount of full time employees, not part time employees. The manners of businesses today are aimed at reducing costs to sustain their existence. Having part time employees in some businesses eliminates benefits and thereby reduces the costs of business.


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    • Dennis AuBuchon profile image

      Dennis AuBuchon 5 years ago


      Thanks for stopping by.

    • Ben Freedom profile image

      Benjamin K. Freedom 5 years ago from USA

      Nice article. Maybe this is the beginning of an initiative to move us to a 4 day work week. See my recent blog on the topic.

    • Dennis AuBuchon profile image

      Dennis AuBuchon 5 years ago


      Thanks for stopping by and making your comment.

    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 5 years ago from New Jersey

      It is sad that so many companies are getting away with hiring all part time employees to avoid giving them benefits.