There’s no set in stone definition of how many hours a full time or part time role is. This can make deciding whether a job is going to be the right fit for you based on an advertisement difficult.
Confused about how many hours full and part time work contracts involve? We’ll look at the difference between the two, and examine any impacts on worker rights based on having a full or part time work contract.
How Many Hours is Full Time?
There’s no legal definition of how many weekly hours a full time job involves. However, consensus among employers and the UK Gov website is that anything over 35 hours can be considered a full time role.
That said, some roles that are considered to be full time could be less than this. There tends to be a floor of 30 hours per week for full time hours, however.
From this we can conclude that the range of hours that could be considered full time varies by up to 25%. That’s going to make quite a big difference to your salary if you’re paid at an hourly rate.
So it’s worth checking how many hours are involved if you are considering applying to a full time job paid hourly.
2022 Statistics on Average Full Time Working Hours
Many of us might think that 40 hours is the standard definition of full time weekly working hours. However, the UK average is quite a bit under this threshold.
We took a look at the ONS statistics on working hours. In 2021, the average weekly hours of work for full time workers was 35.5 hours per week.
However, this data has been skewed by the effects of the pandemic. The average by Q3 of 2022 was 36.3, and the pre pandemic average in 2019 was 37.2 hours per week.
How Many Hours is Part Time?
A part time job can be as much as 35 hours per week. As with full time roles it appears that the definition is very broad. However, as a rule of thumb, a part time job is widely accepted to be 30 hours a week or less.
For many, part time jobs are a great way to give a little more flexibility around other responsibilities. A part time role can also give the opportunity to work some overtime when convenient, making them flexible but offering the security of minimum contracted working hours.
Do Part Time Workers Have the Same Rights as Full Time Workers?
Whilst part time working hours are not precisely specified in UK law, the rights of part time employees are protected.
The regulations dealing with the rights of part time employees does outline the difference between them and full time employees.
The Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 define a part time worker simply as someone who works fewer hours than someone identified as a full time worker.
Part Time Worker Rights
Part time workers must be treated similarly to their colleagues working full time hours.
This means that they should get the same benefits in terms of:-
- Pay and leave. This includes holidays, sick pay, maternity, paternity or adoption leave.
- Career progression and training.
- Promotions, career breaks and job transfers.
- Redundancy selection and pay levels.
One quirk of the regulations is that part time salaried employees don’t have the automatic right to be paid overtime until they’ve worked more than the usual hours of a full time employee.
Our guide on the rights of part time workers has more on this topic.
Maximum Working Hours Per Week in the UK
The working time directive caps maximum working hours at 48 hours per week for full time employees.
Some occupations are exempt such as the police, security companies, the military, and medical professionals.
The 48 hour cap is not calculated on a weekly basis, rather it is based upon average hours worked over the previous 17 weeks.
Workers can also opt out of the working time directive if they are happy to work more than 48 hours per week.
Advantages of Full Time Contracts
Although full and part time workers must be treated the same, there are advantages to being a full time worker.
- Full time working hours offer more wage stability. Many part time employees rely on overtime or extra hours to top up their wages. Their full time counterparts have consistent contracted hours.
- Extra job security – Despite employers being prohibited from discriminating against part time staff during redundancies, full time staff are less likely to be laid off.
- Additional benefits and incentives – many workplaces benefits and incentives. These tend to be tailored to the needs of full time employees. Part time workers can still access them proportionately, but their lesser share makes it more tricky.
Advantages of Part Time Contracts
Part time contracts work better for many staff who wish to have more flexibility in the hours they work. There are many benefits to a part time role.
- Flexibility – part time working hours let you have income and work experience whilst also allowing time for outside interests and responsibilities.
- Ability to work extra hours – Part time workers can work extra hours at times to suit their schedule which can increase their income.
- More leisure time – Part time workers can enjoy more leisure time to explore hobbies, interests, or education and courses.
Do Working Hours Include Breaks?
If you need to work out how many hours your full or part time role takes, you need to know what working hours you should include in your calculations.
For the purposes of official working hours you should not include breaks or lunch hours. Your employer may offer some or all of your breaks as paid. This is an additional benefit and is at their discretion, so does not count towards the length of your working week.
- Do working hours include lunch breaks? A guide on what is included in the calculation of your weekly working hours.
- How long can I work without a break – workplace break entitlements and shift lengths.
There’s no set in stone definition of full time work. However, a full time job is generally accepted as being over 35 hours per week and never below 30 hours. If a role is full time, it will be specified in your contract of employment.
Part time workers are entitled to sick pay so long as they are earning a minimum average of £123 per week.