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Part Time Workers

Posted on July 09, 2010

The Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 aim to ensure that part-time workers are treated no less favourably in their employment conditions thancomparable full-timers, unless this is justified on objective grounds. Objective Justification: Will depend on the factual circumstances in each particular instance:

For example under the Working Time Regulations 1998 all workers are entitled to 5.6 weeks paid leave per annum. This equates to 28 days including bank holidays for people who work normal hours Monday to Friday. Part timers should receive the same entitlement pro rata to the hours actually worked. One would not normally expect a part timer to get less favourable contractual sick pay (pro rata) than a full timer, and it is hard to imagine how such a difference could be objectively justified. The same applies to pension entitlement for example.

With respect to overtime the government Guidance states ‘Part-time workers do not have an automatic right to overtime payments once they work beyond their normal hours. Only when part-time workers have worked up to the normal hours of comparable full-time workers do they have a legal right to overtime payments.’

Comparing Part Timers to Full Timers: Part-timers will need to identify a comparable full-timer who is receiving more favourable treatment. There are several tests to establish who is a comparable full-timer. The part-timer must:

  • work for the same employer as the full-timer, and
  • do the same or broadly similar work (taking into account experience and skills where relevant) as the full-timer.

The Court of Appeal case of Matthews v Kent & Medway Towns Fire Authority (2004) demonstrates that one cannot assume that a part timer is employed under the same type of contract and therefore comparable to a full timer. Although the ‘core obligation’ in this case for both full timers and part timers was fighting fires, it was open to the tribunal to decide on the facts that they are not engaged on the same or broadly similar work, in this case because the full-timers had certain admin duties that the part-timers did not.

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