Definition of Full Time Employment in Canada

By Claire Gillespie - Updated March 15, 2018
Man working on computer at work

If you're wondering how many hours is full-time in Canada, it depends on your employer. Federal employment law doesn't provide a clear definition of full-time or part-time employment, and nor do the laws of many of Canada's provinces. However, 30 hours per week is commonly used to distinguish full-time from part-time employment, according to Statistics Canada. Some employers may use a different threshold, depending on the industry and the employee's particular role.

Tip

Canadian law does not provide a clear definition of full-time employment, but 30 hours per week is commonly used to differentiate between part-time and full-time.

Full-Time vs Part-Time Employment

In Canada, the line between full-time and part-time employment is ambiguous. For example, Alberta's Employment Standards Code does not define full-time employment in terms of a number of hours. Further, the Employment Standards Act, which sets out the rights and responsibilities of employees and employers in Ontario workplaces, does not provide a set definition for full-time employment. Your employment status may be defined by your employment contract or the personnel policies of your place of employment. For example, the Government of New Brunswick has defined full-time employees as those typically expected to work 36 1/4 hours per week (in civil service) or 37 1/2 hours per week (in health care).

Part III of the Canada Labour Code dictates the requirements that an employer must meet in terms of hours of work and overtime, but this makes no reference to full-time or part-time hours. Under this legislation, 40 hours per week is considered "standard hours" for overtime purposes (i.e. hours worked beyond standard hours are payable at the overtime rate), and the maximum time an employee may work each week is normally 48 hours.

Employment Law Jurisdiction

If an employer operates within the borders of a province or territory, the jurisdiction over labor and employment law matters is usually exercised by the provincial or territorial government. However, if employers carry out their business in more than one province or territory, the applicable employment law falls under the jurisdiction of the federal government.

Full-Time Employment Benefits

Both full-time and part-time employees are protected by federal employment standards legislation concerning matters such as working hours, overtime pay and notice of termination (compared to independent contractors, who are not protected by these provisions). Provincial employment standards legislation gives most employees the basic minimum rights at work, and does not discriminate between full-time and part-time employees. All employees are entitled to wages, a regular pay period, vacation time and pay and all other statutory benefits.

About the Author

Claire Gillespie writes about health, science, home and parenting. She has bylines on SELF, SheKnows, The Washington Post, Vice and more.

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