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An HR Glossary for HR Terms

Glossary of Human Resources Management and Employee Benefit Terms

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Regular Time

What Is Regular Time?

Regular time refers to a nonexempt employee's normal (scheduled/shift) work hours and excludes any overtime hours worked. In other words, regular time is an employee's typical schedule.

Because regular time only deals with nonexempt employees, it doesn't apply to salaried (exempt) employees.

Why Is Regular Time Important?

It’s important to distinguish how much of an employee’s hours are regular time, so you can fairly compensate them if they work any overtime hours. If you don’t differentiate these hours, you may accidentally pay your employees inaccurate wages and be fined by the Department of Labor (DOL).

How Do You Calculate Regular Hours?

An employee’s regular hours are all hours worked that do not exceed 40 hours in a single workweek. 

To calculate how many regular hours an employee worked, you must first calculate their total hours. Go through the following steps to determine time worked:

  1. Determine when the employee started and ended work. This is usually done with time-tracking software or punch cards.

  2. Calculate how many hours the employee worked. Subtract the start time from the end time. For example, if the employee started at 8:00 AM and ended at 6:30 PM, they worked for 10 hours and 30 minutes.

  3. Transform minutes into fractions. If the employee did not work an even number of hours, you can convert their number of extra minutes into decimals by dividing the minutes by 60. Using the above example, we’d divide 30 by 60 to get .5. Add this to the whole hours worked and you get 10.5 hours.

  4. Subtract unpaid time. Let’s say the employee took a half-hour unpaid lunch. You would subtract this from the total. Again using the above example, the employee’s total hours are 10 hours flat.

Repeat this process for each day the employee worked to get the total hours for the workweek, and compare those hours to the employee’s regular hours, a standard 40 hours per week.

For example, if an employee works for a total of 45 hours one week, that means they worked 40 regular hours and five overtime hours.

What Counts Towards Regular Time?

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act, the DOL requires employers to count any time worked as regular time if the task can be defined by any of the following:

  • The work benefits the employer

  • The employer is aware of work being completed by the employee

  • The employer has not prohibited the employee from completing the task

Employees do not need to be “on the clock” or physically present on the job site in order to count their work towards regular time or overtime. As long as the tasks they complete meet the criteria above, their work counts towards regular time.

What Is Regular Employee Status?

Regular employee status means an employee has been hired for a continuous and indefinite length of time. This ensures the employee will get a certain number of hours in a given workweek (a recurring period of 168 hours). 

For example, a full-time employee should be scheduled for 40 hours every week, or whatever number of hours the employer considers as full-time. Part-time workers will work for any number of hours below full-time they and their employer have agreed upon.

What Is the Difference Between Full-time and Regular?

Being a regular employee simply means they are not temporary status; they are employees who have been hired on for an indefinite period of time. As such, regular time employees can be both full-time and part-time employees—regular status is not exclusive to full-time employees.

Additionally, not every full-time employee is guaranteed to be a regular time employee. Many full-time employees are hired as a temporary placement on a seasonal or contract basis. The same is true for many part-time workers, like interns.