Part Time vs. Full Time in California (2024) – What Are the Differences?

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Part Time vs. Full Time in California (2024) – What Are the Differences?
Feb 02

The differences between part-time and full-time employment in California, as of January 1, 2023, are few. Both types of employment offer the same protections under state law, but there are few distinctions between the two.

Full-Time vs. Part-Time Hours in California

While California law classifies employees who work 40 hours per week or more as full-time employees, employers may classify workers as full-time as they choose. Employers often opt to label workers who work under 40 hours a week as part-time because they are not required by law to provide healthcare benefits for part-time employees.


Equal Rights for Part-Time and Full-Time Workers in California

Other than healthcare benefits, part-time employees receive all the same allowances by law as full-time employees. Part-time employees who work more than 40 hours per week are eligible to receive overtime pay (time and a half) and are also eligible for paid sick leave. Furthermore, it is required for employers to have workman’s compensation insurance coverage for both part-time and full-time workers. Additionally, part-time workers can even receive unemployment benefits while working, which is something full-time employees are prohibited to do by state law.

Minimum Wage

As of January 1, 2023, for all workers, regardless of hours worked, part-time or full-time status, or how many employees a company has, the minimum wage is $15.50. Some regions have a higher minimum wage. For instance, the minimum wage is $16.04 in LA County but will increase to $16.90 on July 1, 2023, apart from workers who have not performed work in unincorporated LA County. Those workers are subject to the state minimum wage.

Paid Sick Leave

Under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), part-time and full-time employees are entitled to Paid Sick Leave (PSL). This law requires employers to give workers a minimum of three workdays off, either in day or hour increments. If the employer prefers to give PSL in hourly increments for instances such as medical appointments that do not require an employee to miss a full day of work, the employer must allow a minimum of 24 hours for PSL. In Los Angeles City, the PSL minimum is six workdays (or 48 hours).

Workers eligible for PSL include staff employed by the same employer for 30 days or more within one year and who have completed a 90-day employment period before taking PSL. Employees can use PSL to recover from injuries (physical or mental), go to the doctor, or care for a family member who is sick or needs assistance with a medical appointment.

State law allows employers to write their own policies regarding how PSL can be used and whether PSL is earned via accrual. Employers are required, though, to provide at least one hour of PSL per 30 hours worked.

Vacation Time

Vacation time statutes apply to all employees. While state law does not require an employer to give employees vacation time, it defines what constitutes earned vacation time if an employer establishes a policy or agreement on providing it. All employees may earn vacation time depending on the employer, but full-time employees may accrue it at a higher rate.

State law defines earned vacation time as wages earned or accrued in real-time. Furthermore, vacation time cannot be withheld, even if employment is terminated, regardless of the termination reason. Upon termination, employers are required to pay the employee for any accrued vacation time at the same rate of pay at termination. Furthermore, annual vacation time must be prorated if termination occurs mid-year. According to state law, advanced vacation time cannot be deducted from a later or final paycheck.

Employer Control of Vacation Time

Employees cannot lose unused vacation time from one year to the next. However, a vacation time cap is allowed so that employees can max out their potential for earned vacation time until they use it, at which time they may earn more. The cap amount is set by the employer, not the state.

Another control factor employers have a right to is the management of vacation pay. For instance, an employer can define when and how much vacation time is allowed at one particular time.

Independent Contractors

Sometimes employers misclassify employees as independent contractors to avoid having to pay overtime, workers’ compensation premiums, and other requirements of employers. This incorrect classification denies workers their full rights under the law. State laws protect rights to minimum wage, meal periods, overtime, rest breaks, workplace safety, and retaliation protection. If you think an employer is in violation of misclassifying you or other workers, you could be entitled to compensation, and the employer could face fines up to $25,000.


Q: What Are the Employment Law Changes for 2023 in California?

A: In addition to the $15.50 per hour minimum wage jump, employers are now required to provide applicants with a written notice of their rights and responsibilities under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.

Other new laws this year include:

  • an increase in minimum pay requirements for employees working split shifts
  • an increase in the number of unpaid bereavement leave days for employers with five or more employees
  • an obligation for employers to provide employees and applicants with pay statements upon request (if an employer fails to provide paycheck stubs, they may be required to pay penalties up to $4,000 per employee)

Q: Are employees protected from retaliation for taking time off?

A: New statewide retaliation protection laws have been added this year that protect employees from retaliation by employers, such as diminishing the wages or work hours when employees stand up for their rights under state labor laws.

Q: Are employers in California required by law to provide employees with a lunch break?

A: Yes, in many cases. When working more than five hours in one day, state law requires full-time and part-time employees to be given an uninterrupted 30-minute unpaid break for meals. If a shift extends to 12 hours in one day, an additional 30-minute meal break is required. Otherwise, a paid 10-minute rest break is required for every four hours on the job.

Q: Are Part-Time Workers Eligible for the WARN Act?

A: The WARN Act requires businesses to notify eligible workers at least 60 days before a mass layoff or plant closing, even if you are part-time. If you were not adequately informed of such events, you could be eligible for back pay and benefits for up to 60 days.

Los Angeles Employment Law Attorney

State employment laws leave most of the details of time off up to the employer. However, for the few standards the state sets for part-time and full-time employment, employers must uphold them. Employees who are denied basic rights according to state law can file a claim with the Department of Industrial Relations. Alternatively, they have the right to hire a private attorney to represent them in seeking justice for their employee rights.

If you think you have been treated unfairly by your employer in Los Angeles, whether for violations related to misclassification of employees, earned vacation time, or PSL, contact Clark Employment Law, APC, Los Angeles employment law attorney for a consultation today.

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