A job, a source of income, a living, employment: we know work by lots of different names, but not all of them mean the same thing. How deeply do we really understand what work is? Let’s look at some official definitions.

In a workforce context, Merriam-Webster.com offers the following about work: “1:a: sustained physical or mental effort to overcome obstacles and achieve an objective or result”. From this we can see that the very basis of work is thought and action directed towards the accomplishment of a goal. This basic definition does not distinguish if the goal is the worker’s own or not, and also does not mention anything about compensation in any form aside from the goal itself.

The introduction of compensation to work gave birth to the more specific concept of a job. A job implies that the worker is responsible for fulfilling his task, in the same way that the client is obligated to pay the worker for the job done. It should be noted that this type of professional relationship arises out of the client’s need to fulfill a task that she or he is incapable of performing personally. Here, it is understood that the ability to perform the task is why the client is paying the worker.

In the event that the client wishes to benefit from the continuous service of the worker as an integral part of her or his enterprise, she or he may choose to employ the worker. This arrangement implies a long-term business relationship wherein the client is called the employer, while the worker becomes the employee.

Given all of these definitions, we may begin to have a deeper understanding of the various types of employment that exist in today’s economy. Employment can be classified according to more than one criterion, and a significant way to differentiate employment opportunities available today is by defining full-time and part-time employment.

This distinction between the two is anchored on the concept of working hours, or the prescribed amount of time spent working. Full-time employment means that an employee reports to work for the full amount of time prescribed by law, which is usually 48 hours per week (8 hours, 6 days). On the other hand, part-time work means that the employee is either working less than 8 hours for all 6 days, or less than six 8-hour days. These two classifications of work may intersect with other levels of classification, such as duration of tenure.

In our next article we’ll be taking a closer look at the other classifications of employment, as we seek to refine our understanding of this important aspect of society and arm ourselves with knowledge that will help us become more effective members of the Filipino workforce.



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