It is entirely up to an employer to come up with its own criteria as to how many hours an employee works a day or week or any other factors that make an employee part-time vs. full-time for that particular employer. However, if wages or wage benefits are involved, then the employer must clearly spell out in writing (policy, handbook, etc.) as to what it takes to be a full-time employee vs. being a part-time employee. This is especially important if an employer's part-time employees do not earn wage benefits such as, but not limited to, vacation pay (including PTO and PDO leave), sick leave, and holiday pay, while its full-time employees can earn wage benefits. Also, it is legal for an employer to switch an employee from full-time to part-time even without the employee's knowledge as long as the employee does not lose wages, including wage benefits, that have already been earned at the time of the changeover.
Please review on-line our fact sheet on Promised Wages Including Wage Benefits for details on wages and wage benefits.
Please note that the N.C. Department of Labor does not handle benefit issues such as pension plans, retirement plans, 401(k) plans, IRAs, profit sharing plans, and medical/health insurance including COBRA. Here is the agency that you need to contact:
U.S. Department of Labor
Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA)
61 Forsyth Street, S.W., Room 7B54
Atlanta, GA 30303
For all insurance questions, you may also contact the N.C. Department of Insurance's Consumer Division at 919-733-2032 (Raleigh) or toll-free 1-800-662-7777.
For more information about workplace rights, please contact our toll free number at 1-800-NC-LABOR (800-625-2267).