A ‘part-time worker’ is simply someone who works fewer hours than a full-time worker. There is no specific number of hours that makes someone full-time or part-time; normally full-time workers will work 5 days per week and at least 35 hours per week.
Types of part-time working include:
- Job share – where a full-time job is divided into two part-time jobs.
- Term-time work – where a worker can take time off or work reduced hours during school holidays.
- Evening or weekend work.
- Casual work or bank work; these normally fall under ‘zero hours’ contracts.
There are various business benefits of employing part-time workers, such as:
- increasing recruitment and retention of staff by offering family-friendly working practices, for example, flexible-working;
- allowing employers to efficiently keep costs down in areas where they don’t yet need full-time cover;
- helping to reduce the workload of over-stretched workers, for example, when an employer doesn’t have enough work for a new full-time position but is frequently using overtime to meet business demands;
- it allows employers to get the skills they need to grow their business and meet customer demands with a limited budget; and
- increases the ability of businesses to respond to change and peak periods.
For workers, part-time working can be a good way of balancing work and personal commitments.
Part-time workers’ rights:
Part time workers have the right to be treated no less favourably than comparable full-time workers. This means they should get the same treatment and benefits as those who are full-time; for example, part-time workers should receive the same:
- Pay – part-time workers should receive the same rates of pay as a full-time comparable worker or the pro-rata full-time equivalent salary (including sick pay, maternity, paternity and adoption leave and pay).
- Pension opportunities and benefits
- Holidays – they should receive the pro-rata entitlement of a full-time holiday allowance.
- Training and career development – they should not be excluded from training opportunities simply because they work part-time.
- Selection for promotion and transfer, or redundancy.
- Opportunities for career breaks.
Employers should ensure part-time workers are able to, or are given the opportunity to, attend key meetings, work events and training etc so they are not disadvantaged due to their working pattern.
When can you treat part-time workers differently?
In some situations, employers may treat part-time workers differently from full time employees however they will need to:
- objectively justify the reason for the different treatment and
- show that the reason meets a genuine business need.
In considering this we would always advise you seek professional opinion first from your HR practitioner.
What if a part-time worker has been treated less favourably?
The Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 (PTW Regulations) allow part-time workers to challenge less favourable treatment on the ground of their part-time status if it cannot be objectively justified by the employer.
If a part-time worker thinks they are being treated less favourably they should first discuss the issue with their line manager, they can ask for a written statement from the employer explaining the reason for the less favourable treatment. This request should be in writing and the response from the employer should be given within 21 days.
If the worker is not satisfied with the reason, they may be able to make a claim to the employment tribunal.
Help and support
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