Part time working – a growing trend

Part time working – a growing trend

According to a recent report in the Mail, a record 7.8 million people are currently in part-time jobs. The report attributes the rise in part-time working to the lack of full time jobs, as businesses are hit by the recession.
Part-time working may be a last resort for those unable to obtain full-time work, but has many advantages, and is increasingly a choice to work to fit in with other responsibilities. For many people with childcare and other caring responsibilities it can enable work to fit around child care, and give a better work life balance.

Part-time workers had historically been considered to be a different class of worker to those who worked full- time, with reduced rights, however this is no longer the case with part- time workers having protection from being treated less favourably than their full-time colleagues under The Part-Time Workers Regulations. These Regulations have been in force for ten years, but with the rise of part-time working are becoming more important.

A part-time worker has the right not to be treated less favourably than the employer treats a comparable full-time worker:

· As regards the terms of their contract; or
· By being subjected to any other detriment by their employer.

The full-time worker for comparison is employed by the same employer, under the same type of contract, engaged in the same or broadly similar work having regard, where relevant, to whether they have a similar level of qualification, skills and experience and usually in the same location.

In looking at whether there is less favourable treatment and detriment you have to ask whether a reasonable person would take the view that the part-timer has been disadvantaged in some way. Less favourable treatment and detriment cannot be cancelled out by more favourable treatment of a different kind. This means that, when looking at whether a part-time worker’s contract is less favourable than a full-time worker’s contract, you need to take a term-by-term approach rather than look at the contract as a package.

Employers should ensure that they treat part-time employees as favorably as full-time (subject to a pro rata principal) unless there is an objectively justifiable reason for not doing so.

Statistics show that more women than men work part time, and so employers also need to be aware that part-time employees may also have claims for indirect sex discrimination if they are not treated as favorably. Typical headache areas include holiday pay, bank holidays, and bonuses.

As well as in terms of contracts, employers should not for example consider part timers fair game for easy redundancy cuts , or overlook them for promotion, as to do so risks employment claims and can be costly.

If you have part- time workers in your work force, review part-time contracts and take advice if necessary, to avoid the pitfalls and enable you to benefit from the wealth of experience employees who are prepared to work part-time.

For specific queries please contact Victoria Young, employment solicitor at Blocks who will be able to assist with this and any other employment related legal matters vy@blockslegal.co.uk direct dial 01473 343922.

The above is general comment only and individual advice should be taken.