Calculating the number of hours a full-time employee works seems simple -- 40 hours a week for 52 weeks a year. However, that's not always the case. Some employers consider a few number of hours in a full-time week, and others provide overtime opportunities, meaning the employee gets more than 40 hours per week.
Why Calculate in Hours
Full-time employees can be paid by the hour or on salary, which means they get the same amount of pay each week. Calculating the number of hours worked by each of your full-time employees helps you figure some of your financial liability. For example, having the correct number of hours allows you to assign an hourly wage to an employee that includes the cost of benefits such as health insurance and free parking. After adding an employee's pay and the cost of his benefits together, you can divide that by the number of hours worked to see how much it costs you per hour to employ that person. Or, you might need to know how many hours were worked by all your employees combined to help set productivity goals. To do this, you must first know how many hours each employee worked.
Ways to Calculate
A couple of simple ways can be used to determine how many hours a full-time employee worked in a year. If you pay by the hour, check time sheets or time-clock cards and add the total number of hours worked per week to find the annual total. For salaried employees, multiply the number of hours per week you consider full-time, such as 40 or 37.5, by the number of weeks your employee worked. Don't count days off such as holidays, sick leave or vacation time if you're looking for the total hours worked. Include the time off only if your goal is to find how many hours you paid the employee for instead of how many hours he actually worked.
You can base your employees' pay on the national standard for full-time workers, which is 2,087 hours per year, according to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. This is based on the basic number of hours full-time employees work: at 40 hours a week for 52 weeks, that's 2,080. However, not every year is the same. Some have 366 days, for example, and some have more or fewer pay days than average because of the way weekends fall on the calendar. In 1985, the government set the annual full-time standard as 2,087 hours to accommodate for differences in the calendar year. That doesn't mean you must use that number when figuring your per-hour cost for your employees, but you can if you desire.
What is Full Time?
Full-time employees who stay with your company for at least 12 months aren't the only ones that might need an hourly breakdown. Some companies have full-time temporary or seasonal jobs, such as an accountant who hires additional workers to help during tax season. Other companies might have part-time workers who occasionally work full-time hours, such as getting 40 hours per week when filling in for sick employees. Depending on the reason you're calculating the hours, you might need to include these other forms of full-time hours as well.
Based outside Atlanta, Ga., Shala Munroe has been writing and copy editing since 1995. Beginning her career at newspapers such as the "Marietta Daily Journal" and the "Atlanta Business Chronicle," she most recently worked in communications and management for several nonprofit organizations before purchasing a flower shop in 2006. She earned a BA in communications from Jacksonville State University.