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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
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Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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How many hours per week is considered part-time under Washington

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How many hours per week is considered part-time under Washington State law? Can a company force a full-time employee to work part-time hours?

Hello and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question.

There is no legal distinction under federal or state law between "part-time" and "full-time" work. A company can force a full-time employee to work part-time hours unless the employee has an express contract guaranteeing them full time work because employment in the state of Washington is "at will" and as such, the terms of employment can be changed at any time.

I hope that this addresses your question, although it may not have been what you were expecting to hear. If I can be of any further service to you whatsoever in answering your question, please do not hesitate to let me know.

Very best wishes to you moving forward and thank you so much for requesting me to answer your question.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

There is a distinction (at least where benefits are concerned), a part-time employee does not receive full-time benefits. Where is this line drawn under Washington State law, e.g. hours worked?


Thank you very much for your reply. There may very well be a distinction between part-time and full-time employment as far as benefits are concerned, but that would be a distinction drawn by your employer, not by any Washington or federal law. As stated, the law does not draw any distinctions whatsoever between part-time and full-time employment--those terms have no legal significance at all.

So, for example, your employer can arbitrarily decide that employees who work more than 40 hours a week are "full time" and will receive health benefits. They could set the bar at 30 hours a week. It would be entirely up to them. In the literal sense, there is now a distinction between part-time and full-time employment, but it is a distinction made by the employer and not the law.

The closest thing to a distinction the law may draw between full and part time employment is that workers who work more than 1000 hours in a year generally may not be excluded from participation in a qualified retirement plan (i.e. 401k matching). There are also cutoffs that relate to the number of hours worked for certain forms of statutorily protected leave, such as FMLA (1250 hours in a year).

I hope that this clarifies the issue for you. I am more than happy to discuss this with you further if necessary.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I tried to give you an excellent rating and a tip. However, when I attempted to do so I received an error page and I don't know if any of it went through. Just know that I tried.

I used the browser's 'back' button to return to this page to give you this information. Thank you for your help.


Sincerely, Mark.



Thank you very much for alerting me about this site error and for attempting to provide a positive rating. Perhaps try one more time, and if it does not go through, I will alert the site administrators that you intended to positively rate my answers.

Thank you again.

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