Though a 40-hour work week is commonly considered full time, the United States Department of Labor reports that the Fair Labor Standards Act – a document that outlines the basic work laws, including minimum wage and overtime pay, for U.S. employees – does not define full-time employment or part-time employment. In New York, like in all states, it is up to each employer to define employment as full time or part time.
Limits on Hours
The New York State Department of Labor imposes no limits on the number of hours employees can work per day. Likewise, there are no limits on how early in the morning an adult employee can start working or how late in the day an adult employee can work. However, the state does require that employers give employees 24 hours of rest per calendar week in certain places of employment, including factories, mercantile establishments and restaurants.
Though the New York State Department of Labor doesn't define full-time hours, it does define overtime hours. If nonresidential employees – any employees that don't live at their workplace – in New York work more than 40 hours in a single payroll week, employers must distribute overtime pay. Overtime applies to residential, or “live-in,” employees after 44 hours.
New York Averages
According to 2011 reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average employee on a private, nonfarm payroll in the state of New York worked 34.2 hours per week. Hours varied per industry; for instance, the average New Yorker working in manufacturing worked 40 hours per week, while those working in the leisure and hospitality industries worked an average of 27.4 hours per week. New York's average falls closely in line with the national average of 34.6 hours per week, according to the same BLS data.
Like all states, New York requires employers to pay both part- and full-time employees a minimum wage. In 2011, that wage was $7.25 per hour, with exceptions for farmers, youth and employees who also earn tips. Employers must give employees that work a shift of more than six hours at least one uninterrupted 30-minute lunch break, though they do not have to pay for this break.