The Differences Between Full-Time Versus Part-Time Employment
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated January 19, 2023
Published July 26, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
You can find both full-time and part-time positions, and the differences between them come down to more than the number of working hours. Understanding both options can help you choose the opportunities that best suit your skills and interests. In this article, we define full- and part-time employment and discuss common jobs and their benefits and drawbacks.
What is full-time vs part-time employment?
A full-time position requires an employee to work more than 30 hours a week consistently. Although there is no specific definition in the Canada Labour Code, the accepted guideline is that full-time employment means more than 30 hours a week and part-time is less than 30 hours a week. Most employers use an eight-hour day and a 40-hour workweek to identify a full-time position. It's important to note that the Canada Labour Code requires a company to pay overtime for any employee working more than eight hours a day or 40 hours a week unless they're in a salaried or exempt position.
Different organizations define full-time hours differently and outline their definition in an employment contract or in the company's policies. However, each organization sets a standard for what full-time hours mean to them. So, if they define them as 35 hours per week, you can expect to work 35 hours each week consistently during your employment.
What to consider about full-time jobs
There are important aspects to consider when deciding on full-time vs part-time employment, a few of which are listed here:
Types of full-time jobs
Positions that require advanced education, unique skills, or experience are typically full-time jobs. You can find full-time employment in every industry, from retail to specialized industries, and it includes roles such as the following:
professional careers, including law, medicine, and science
management and supervisory positions
accounting and finance
advertising and marketing
skilled trades and manufacturing
Benefits of full-time employment
Full-time employment offers several benefits compared to part-time work, including:
Although not regulated, most companies offer their full-time employees health insurance and other benefits that are usually not available to part-time employees. These benefits can include health, dental, vision, and paramedical health insurance coverage, as well as profit sharing or RRSP (registered retirement savings plan) contribution matching.
The company may also cover the entire health insurance premium or split it with the employee. Although Canada offers universal health care, individuals must pay out of pocket for uncovered services such as seeing a dentist. These costs add up quickly, so full or partially-paid insurance benefits are a welcome employment perk.
Because a full-time employee receives over 30 hours of work every week, their paycheque is typically higher than part-time employees. They make more money because they work more hours. As a result, a company may choose to pay its full-time employees an hourly wage or an annual salary. Often, full-time positions require advanced skills and experience and offer a higher salary.
Drawbacks of full-time employment
There are several drawbacks to full-time employment compared to part-time jobs, including:
Greater chance of burnout
Full-time employees work more hours and often have greater responsibilities than their part-time coworkers. Because of this, employers may have higher expectations of their full-time staff members, and the added pressure may increase the chance of burnout. Individuals may feel overwhelmed by added responsibilities, experience higher stress levels, or become frustrated with their job.
Less flexibility for work-life balance
Because you are working over 30 hours a week in a full-time job, there is less flexibility when it comes to work-life balance. Spending more time at work means less time at home with family, socializing with friends and pursuing hobbies and other personal interests. If you're working an additional job or building a business on the side, full-time hours restrict opportunities to make extra income.
What is part-time employment?
Part-time employment is generally considered employment under 30 hours a week. However, there are no set regulations on the number of hours a part-time worker can work. And it's important to note that a part-time worker can work up to 40 hours per week and still only be considered part-time. The designation of full-time versus part-time employment comes down to your employment contract and the company's employment policies.
The Canada Labour Code and provincial regulations protect part-time workers who work overtime hours and statutory holidays. Companies must pay overtime to part-time workers who work over eight hours a day or 40 hours a week. They must also pay statutory holiday pay to part-time workers who qualify.
Types of part-time jobs
Part-time jobs attract students, partially retired individuals, people seeking additional income, or others who want or need greater flexibility. Many part-time jobs require less advanced education or skill levels and offer excellent entry-level opportunities to increase work experience. Companies may also use part-time positions to cover gaps in their schedules or provide increased hours, such as in retail or food service. Some typical part-time roles include:
retail sales associates
food service workers, such as cooks, dishwashers, and servers
reception and administration
janitorial, maintenance, and cleaning
Benefits of part-time employment
Part-time employment offers several benefits compared to full-time jobs, including:
Better work-life balance
Because part-time employment takes up less of your time, a part-time position offers a better opportunity for work-life balance. You have time to pursue other interests, such as schooling, hobbies, or building a business while still receiving an income. A part-time position can also provide you time to pick your children up from school or work during times that are best for you. Once you have your work schedule, you can make plans and enjoy your personal life without dedicating 40 hours a week to a job.
In addition, working shorter weekdays or weeks allows you to rest and rejuvenate. As a result, part-time employees may experience less stress and burnout from work responsibilities. This work-life balance can create healthier, happier employees.
Opportunity to gain experience
A part-time position provides you with the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the workplace. If you're interested in a different career but aren't ready to commit fully to making the change, trying it out with a part-time job can let you know if it's right for you. In addition, if you're building your work skills, a part-time job often requires less experience than a full-time position. You can develop your skills and expertise in a part-time position and then move into full-time once you've developed your abilities.
Drawbacks of part-time employment
Part-time employment has several drawbacks compared to full-time jobs, including:
Typically, most companies do not offer their part-time employees any health, dental, vision, or paramedical insurance coverage. This benefit tends to be reserved for full-time employees. So if another job or a spouse doesn't cover you, you'll be paying out of pocket for health insurance benefits. In addition, company benefits, such as RRSP contribution-matching, tend to be for full-time employment. It's a good idea to ask about benefits in your employment contract when you're considering accepting a part-time position.
Decreased job security
When a company experiences an economic downturn or seasonal changes, part-time employee hours usually feel the impact first. Often part-time employees are the ones who fill in the gaps during busy seasons; when the volume is no longer there, the company needs to reduce hours. This creates less job security.
In addition, if an organization goes through an economic downturn, it often decides to let go or lay off part-time employees and hold on to its full-time staff. Because of this, job security is lower for part-time workers. An added downside is that a company may view its part-time employees as more dispensable, as it has invested less time and money and fewer resources into their employment.
While some companies offer a consistent schedule week-to-week, many companies use part-time employees to fill in gaps during working hours that full-time staff cannot cover. For example, you may work 20 hours one week and 30 hours the next—or mornings, afternoons, and evenings, all within a scheduled week. This can be problematic for booking appointments, working other jobs, or arranging extracurricular activities.
How to move from part-time to full-time employment
If you're in a part-time position and looking to move into full-time work, you may want to consider these two options:
1. Promotion from within a current position
If you want to move into a full-time position, one option is to look for a promotion with your current employer. A company often promotes from within, moving someone from part-time to full-time when they express an interest and a position is available. The added benefit to the company is they don't need to invest additional resources in hiring and training new team members.
2. Look outside your current situation for a full-time position
Once you have developed your skills in a part-time job, you can look at different companies offering full-time employment. With the hands-on experience to add to your resume, more opportunities will be available to you. You may find there's a larger variety of roles to suit your long-term goals and provide more financial stability.
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