Where a worker is part time, what rights do they have to equal treatment with full-time workers?
In many cases, part-time employment is a lifestyle choice, and part-time workers do not wish to obtain full-time employment. There could be many reasons why someone would only consider working part-time, this could be from childcare arrangements, caring for an ill family relative or wanting to remain in the workplace but enjoy semi-retirement! The latest Labour Force Survey from the Office for National Statistics indicates that 70% of part-time workers would not consider taking a full-time job.
As a part time worker, what are your rights?
A part-time employee or worker is someone who works fewer hours than a full-time employee or worker in the same organisation. There’s no set number of hours that counts as full or part-time work.
The Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 provides the right to a part-time worker, whether female or male, not to be treated less favourably than a comparable full-time worker, on the ground that they are part time, as regards the terms of their contract or by being subjected to any other detriment. To establish less favourable treatment, a part-time worker must identify a real full-time worker as a comparator.
Who is the comparator?
The comparator must be someone who works full time for the same employer and is on the same type of contract as the part-time employee or worker. They must do the same or broadly similar work as the part-time employee or worker. You should also consider whether they have a similar level of qualification, skills and experience and that they are based at the same organisation, or at a different one if there is no comparator at the same one.
What is less favourable treatment?
In establishing whether a part-time worker has been treated less favourably, regulations often mean that benefits must be ‘pro-rata’. Namely, benefits such as pay, leave and sickness are given pro rata for part-time employees and workers. So, a part-time worker should receive the full-time benefit in proportion to the hours they work.
So, by way of illustration if someone who works full time gets paid £28,000 a year, someone working in the same role for half the hours should get paid £14,000. Another example would be if a full-time worker gets a £1,000 bonus, a part-time worker working half the number of hours should get £500.
These regulations can also apply to training and career development.
However, an employer could have a defence to a claim if it can show that less favourable treatment of the part-time worker is justified on objective grounds. Less favourable treatment will only be justified if the employer can show that it’s to achieve a legitimate objective and it’s a necessary and appropriate way to achieve it.