Part-time workers are an important part of our nation’s economy.
According to data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), somewhere between 25 million and 35 million people are currently employed on a part-time basis.
You may be wondering, how many hours is part-time in California? Well, it depends.
It is difficult to get a precise number because government agencies and private organizations often use different definitions of what constitutes “part-time work.”
Under California law, workers can be classified as part-time if they work fewer than 40 hours per week.
Though, employers can designate workers as full-time employees whenever they choose to do so.
Part-Time Hours: California
The answer to the question “what is part-time in California” depends, to some degree, on who is being asked. The California Labor Market Review gives a general overview of how a number of Californians view or define part-time employment.
But the publication does not outline requirements for how employers must identify their employees.
That being said, the maximum hours for part-time employees in California is 40 hours a week. But there really isn’t a California law that sets a hard line for full-time employment.
The minimum number of hours for part-time work in California is anything less than 35 hours a week. However, 35 hours a week is more of a guide.
The Employer Has Some Discretion
Some employers in our state will classify all workers who put in at least 32 hours each week as full-time employees.
However, other companies deem all workers who average fewer than 40 hours per week as part-time employees.
Federal Legal Definitions of Full-Time Work
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that dictates the standards for paying workers across the country (although employers must follow state laws that are stricter than FLSA).
FLSA does not define part-time or full-time employment, but other federal law does define whether an employer has certain obligations to their employees.
For instance, if you work at a company with 50 or more
total full-time employees, then the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will have an impact on your designation — at least for the purposes of health coverage.
The ACA defines ‘full-time’ work as 30 hours per week. If you are covered by the ACA, then your employer must either provide you with sufficient healthcare benefits or must pay a penalty directly to the government.
Most companies in this situation choose to offer health coverage. Of course, this ACA regulation does not apply to small employers.
Rest Time and Paid Leave for Part-time Employees
Whether you are a part-time or full-time employee, you are entitled to a certain amount of time for rest during the workday and year.
If your employer does not respect your break time or leave rights, speak to one of our experienced employment attorneys at Workplace Rights Law Group.
Your entitlement to rest periods during your workday depends on the length of each shift you work. Under California law, your employer must give you 10 consecutive minutes of break time for every four hours you work.
You should also receive a 10-minute rest period for “major fractions” of a four-hour work period. A major fraction of a four-hour work period is any work period longer than two hours.
Employers must also provide reasonable break time for employees who need to express breast milk for their children.
Much like rest periods, a worker’s entitlement to a meal break depends on how many hours they work in a day.
In general, you must receive a 30-minute, unpaid meal break when you work more than five hours in a day. And you must receive two 30-minute meal breaks if you work more than 10 hours in a day.
Employers that do not provide sufficient breaks to their employees are subject to penalties. An attorney can help you assert your rights and recoup damages if your employer neglects state rest and meal period laws.
It should also be noted that California is one of the few states with a paid leave law on the books. For companies covered by this law, paid leave benefits apply to all of their workers.
Part-time employees will accrue paid leave benefits under this law just the same as full-time workers.
How Does Being a Part-Time Employee in California Affect Your Legal Rights?
The rights of part-time workers must be protected.
As explained by the United States Department of Labor (DOL), part-time employees are still protected by labor regulations in much the same way that full-time workers are.
For example, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) simply does not consider whether a worker is part-time or full-time.
Part-time workers are still owed a minimum wage, and a part-time worker is scheduled for more than 40 hours in a single week during a busy time of the year, they may be entitled to overtime pay.
Even so, employers are under no obligation to offer part-time workers general benefits.
California companies typically have the duty to award benefits only to their full-time staff members.
Though, employers should treat workers fairly and consistently.
If you are a part-time worker who has been denied benefits while other similarly situated part-time workers are receiving benefits, it is possible that you have been the victim of unlawful discrimination.
To learn more about your rights and your options, you should discuss your case with an employment attorney immediately.
Speak to a Los Angeles Wage & Hour Lawyer Today
At Workplace Rights Law Group LLP, our dedicated California employment lawyers have extensive experience handling the full range of wage & hour claims.
If you have questions about part-time employment or if you believe that you were improperly denied benefits or your rights were violated, we are here to help.
To get a free, confidential review of your case, please contact our law firm today.
Quick FAQ For Part-Time Employees in California
Workers can be classified as part-time if they work fewer than 40 hours per week.
Employers are under no obligation to offer part-time workers general benefits.
Part-time employees will accrue paid leave benefits. California is one of the few states with a paid leave law on the books. For companies covered by this law, paid leave benefits apply to all of their workers.
According to the California Department of Industrial Relations, “there are some employees who are exempt from the minimum wage law, such as outside salespersons, individuals who are the parent, spouse, or child of the employer, and apprentices regularly indentured under the State Division of Apprenticeship Standards.”