HR compliance

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How many hours is full time in the UK?

How many hours is full time in the UK?

What are full time hours in the UK, and what is the maximum someone can legally work over the course of a week?

As a Charlie CIPD-qualified advisor, I provide small businesses and startups with the best possible advice on managing and supporting their employees. 

And that includes helping HR managers and business owners decide which roles should be full or part time, and how many hours the people in those positions should work per week

Getting your working hours right is vital  — as they can hugely impact your business success and the health and happiness of your team. But there’s a lot to consider:

  • Employee retention: your people are likely to start looking for opportunities with a better work-life balance if you expect them to work consistently long hours.
  • Employee wellbeing: working too much will negatively impact your employees' physical and mental health. 
  • Productivity levels: more hours doesn't necessarily equate to increased productivity. 
  • Employee Engagement and satisfaction: happy employees are more likely to be engaged and committed to their role and your business. 
  • Competition: competing businesses that prioritise employee wellbeing and work-life balance are likely to be seen as more attractive employers. 
  • HR compliance: you need to ensure that your business policies and practices comply with UK laws and regulations regarding working hours.

As I said, there’s a lot to consider!

But don’t worry, because you’re not on your own. I’m here to answer all of your questions. 

So if you’re wondering whether working 30 hours a week is full time in the UK, or how many hours a month is full time, read on…

How many hours is a full time week in the UK?

There is no legal minimum or maximum for how many hours is a full time week in the UK. Instead, full and part time working hours are decided by custom and practice, with most employers opting for whatever is commonly thought to be industry standard. 

More often than not, a full time working week is anything from 35 hours — with some employers setting theirs at 35, and others at 40. It’s also not uncommon for employers to try to meet somewhere in the middle and fix their full time week at 37.5 hours, but this may prove a little harder to calculate.

Typically, working 35 hours a week or more constitutes a full time position in the UK.

Is 30 hours a week full time in the UK?

Custom and practice is that working 30 hours a week in the UK is not regarded as full time

A 30 hour week is a bit of a grey area, as it’s on the high side of what is commonly regarded as part time, but very close to the accepted norm of 35 hours as full time.

UK labour law doesn't state how many hours of work a week equals full time, so part time hours are typically decided in contrast to whatever is full time at each business

For example, if full time is a 40 hour week, then working up to 30 hours a week could probably be defined as part time. And if full time is 35 hours, then it’s likely that the part time counterpart would be significantly less than 30 hours.

Is 40 hours a week full time in the UK?

Custom and practice is that working 40 hours a week is full time in the UK.

Working 40 hours a week is on the higher side of what’s regarded as full time, but still within the accepted norm.

If you’re under 18 however, you cannot work more than 40 hours a week (8 hours a day) by law.

How many hours a month is full time?

In the UK, both full and part time hours are commonly referenced per week rather than per month

For example, a job advert or an employment contract for a full time position would more likely state ‘35 hours a week’ rather than ‘140 hours a month’, as it’s custom and practice to do so. 

  • If an employee has to record their hours somewhere, then it might be the norm to list them as a total for the month. 
  • Equally, if someone works annualised hours then it might make sense to use a monthly rather than weekly total. 

Again, as there is no stipulation in UK employment law about what constitutes full time or part time hours, some employers in some industries may advertise and record their working hours as per month rather than per week

What’s the maximum someone can work per week?

According to the ‘working time directive’ law (also referred to ‘working time regulations’), an employee cannot work more than 48 hours a week on average. 

But an employee can choose to work more by opting out of the 48-hour week. Opting out (or opting in for that matter) doesn’t apply to anyone under 18, however as they cannot legally work more than 40 hours a week. 

There are some exceptions to the working time directive, as working more than 48 hours a week is required in certain roles and industries — in the armed forces or emergency services, for example. 

What hours qualify as full time versus part time?

Just as there is no legal stipulation as to how many hours constitute full time, there is no official ruling about how many hours a week equals part time. Therefore working part time could be anything from a few hours a week, right up to just under 35 hours (the accepted norm of what’s considered to be the tipping point for full time weekly hours). 

More often than not, working part time means someone is employed for fewer than 30-35 hours a week, and averages out at around 16 hours.

Custom and practice are that part time hours are defined by the hours worked by a company’s full time employees — the part time hours are relative.  

Regardless of whether they work full time or part time, all employees should be treated equally in terms of pay (including sick and parental leave and pay) and benefits.

It can be difficult to keep track of who is working part time or full time at your company, and that’s why you should seek an automation process to make it easier. 

With HR software like Charlie, you can make sure you track your employee hours – which means you can also track part timers. 

All of your calculations are automated within the software, with no need for you to do manual work.

Get a free trial with Charlie for 7 days and start tracking your time off.
Get a free trial with Charlie for 7 days and start tracking your time off.

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