[ Previous Page]  [ Home Page ]

The following opinion is presented on-line for informational use only and does not replace the official version. (Mich Dept of Attorney General Web Site - www.ag.state.mi.us)



Opinion No. 5680

April 16, 1980


Full-time police officer


'Full-time person'

A 'full-time person' employed by a township police department means a police officer who works approximately 40 hours per week in the absence of a collective bargaining agreement providing otherwise, and who devotes substantially all working time to the duties of the position of police officer.

Honorable Nick H. Smith

State Representative

The Capitol

Lansing, Michigan 48909

You have requested my opinion as to the meaning of the term 'full-time person', which is found in 1945 PA 246, Sec. 1, as last amended by 1978 PA 590, MCLA 41.181; MSA 5.45(1). This statute provides:

'(1) The township board of a township may . . . establish a police department with full power to enforce local township ordinances and state laws, and in the event state laws are to be enforced, a township shall have a law enforcement unit composed of not less than 1 full-time person, the members of which shall have not less than 2 weeks prior police work experience or its equivalent as approved by the township board. . . .' [Emphasis supplied]

It should be noted that such police officers generally must meet the minimum employment standards for law enforcement officers set forth in the Michigan Law Enforcement Officers Training Council Act of 1965, 1965 PA 203, Sec. 9, as amended, MCLA 28.609; MSA 4.450(9). OAG 1977-78, No 5270, p ___ (February 27, 1978).

Full-time is defined as 'employed for or working the amount of time considered customary or standard'. Webster's Third New International Dictionary.

In Bateham v Public School Employees' Retirement Fund Board, 333 Mich 264; 52 NW2d 693 (1952), the Court held that a school bus driver employed for twenty (20) years who drove four (4) hours per day five (5) days a week, was on call for special trips, and performed regular vehicle maintenance, was not a full-time employee for the purpose of fulfilling requirements for receiving retirement compensation. The Court quoted with approval an opinion of the Supreme Court of New Hampshire interpreting a similar statute:

'[T]he words 'full time' in an industrial community like ours have acquired a definite significance which is generally recognized and well settled by popular usage. This term, like its close relatives, part time and over-time has reference to a customary or normal period of work. All of these terms assume that a certain number of hours customarily constitute a day's work and that work for a certain number of days constitutes a week's work within a given industry or factory. One who works less than the usual number of hours per day is said to have a part-time job. One who works more than the usual number of hours per day is said to work overtime. When a factory runs only 3 days per week it is said to be running on part time and its employees say that they are only working part time. Full time ordinarily signifies the normal or customary period of labor per day or per week in the establishment where the workman is employed for the kind of work which he is hired to perform.' Cote v Bachelder-Worcester Co., 85 NH 444 (160 A 101, 82 ALR 1239.)'

. . .

'One who works only a part of a day, or only 2 or 3 days out of a week, or only a few weeks out of the year, cannot be said to be working at full time. We therefore conclude that the words, 'at full time,' necessarily mean a full working day . . . every week of the year.' 333 Mich 264, 271-272.

In Dubia v Tilton, 96 NH 489; 79 A2d 346 (1951), the Court ruled that a police officer who worked from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for five (5) months was a 'full-time permanent police officer' for the purpose of accumulating annual leave. Full-time status was established by the nature of the officer's duties, the circumstances of the officers work, and the actual tenure of office.

In Harlan v Washington National Insurance Company, 388 Pa 88; 130A2d 140 (1957), the Court held that full-time status is determined according to the duties imposed are such that the person is available, and on call, at all times, for service.

In Pennsylvania, a township police officer employed for three (3) hours per week to assist on the chief's day off, or during vacations or emergencies, but who was available for duty twenty-four (24) hours per day, has been held to be a 'full-time police officer' under the Police Tenure Act, 1951 PA 586, 53 Pa Stat, Sec. 811 et seq. Droz v Borough of Brownstown, 43 Pa D&C2d 205 (1967).

It should be noted that the 1978 Municipal Salaries, Wages and Fringe Benefits Survey for Michigan cities of over 4,000 population published by the Michigan Municipal League indicates that out of 150 cities surveyed, in 144 the normal work week of a police officer consisted of 40 hours. In six cities it consisted of more than 40 hours. In no city did a normal police work week consist of fewer than 40 hours. In the 1975-1976 survey for Michigan villages and cities of 1,000 to 4,000 population, in a sample of 131 communities, 65% reported that police employees worked 40 hours a week; over 29% work 41 to 48 hours a week; and 5% worked more than 48 hours a week.'

1969 PA 312, MCLA 423.231 et seq; MSA 17.455(31) et seq, provides for compulsory arbitration of labor disputes in police and fire departments. When a labor dispute involving police or fire departments is arbitrated, 1969 PA 312, Sec. 10, supra, as last amended by 1977 PA 303, provides:

'[a] majority decision of the arbitration panel, if supported by competent, material, and substantial evidence in the whole record, shall be final and binding upon the parties, and may be enforced, at the instance of either party or of the arbitration panel in the circuit court for the county in which the dispute arose or in which a majority of the affected employees reside. . . . Increases in rates of compensation or other benefits may be awarded retroactively to the commencement of any period(s) in dispute, any other statute or charter provisions to the contrary not-withstanding. . . .' [Emphasis supplied]

Thus, an agreement which is the product of the compulsory arbitration process, pursuant to 1969 PA 312, supra, may affect the meaning of the term 'full-time' for purposes of law enforcement employment. See Deptula v City of Dearborn Heights, 49 Mich App 348; 212 NW2d 80 (1973), lv to app den, 391 Mich 757 (1974). For example, a police officers' collective bargaining agreement may provide for a 40 hour paid work week, which may include one-half hour (1/2) per day for lunch, resulting in a 37.5 hour work week, which would qualify as 'full-time' under the particular agreement.

It is, therefore, my opinion that the term 'full-time person' as used in 1945 PA 246, Sec. 1(1), supra, means a police officer who works approximately 40 hours per week and devotes substantially all working time to the duties of the position, to the exclusion of other paid employment, and in the absence of any collective bargaining agreement providing otherwise. Clearly, a police officer who works for a township police department on a regular basis, but is employed for only 20 to 25 hours per week, is not a full-time person as contemplated by 1945 PA 246, Sec. 1(1), supra.

Frank J. Kelley

Attorney General

[ Previous Page]  [ Home Page ]