Part-time working may be a good option for both employers and employees, but there are a number of things you need to be aware of.
1 There is no particular threshold that makes someone part-time or full-time – a worker will work part-time hours if they work less than a full-time worker.
2 There are different types of part-time working, for example, job sharing, evening work or term-time working.
3 The Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations make it unlawful to treat a part-time worker less favourably than a comparable full-time worker.
This means that they have the right to the same pay rate and to receive the same annual leave entitlement (on a pro-rata basis). They should not be barred from training opportunities or selected for redundancy just because they work part-time.
The comparable full-time worker must be employed by the same employer and be under the same type of contract; perform the same or broadly the same work (where appropriate, you will need to consider if they have a similar level of qualification, skill and experience) and work at the same place as the part-time worker or if there is no comparable full-time worker there, at a different site.
This comparator must be a real full-time worker, not a hypothetical one.
4 This is a day one right. This means that there is no minimum length of service required to acquire this right to equal treatment.
5 The Regulations cover not only employees, but also workers.
6 There may be situations where a difference in treatment is lawful. The employer must be able to show they have a genuine business reason – it must be necessary and proportionate to achieve a legitimate business aim.
7 An employee can ask for a written statement, specifying the reasons for the difference in treatment. They must request this statement in writing and the employer must respond within 21 days.
8 Employers need to take care not to commit indirect sex discrimination. For example, if you insist that all employees work full-time, it’s likely this policy will put women at a particular disadvantage because they tend to do the bulk of the childcare. The employer would need show that this requirement to work full-time is a real business need and that it’s a proportionatemeans of achieving this legitimate aim.
9 Employees (not workers) who have 26 continuous weeks of service with you have a statutory right to request flexible working. This includes asking to work part-time hours. When an employer receives an application which meets all the qualifying requirements, employers must consider the request in a reasonable manner and in a timely fashion and can only refuse a request for a stated business reason.
10 If you want a part-time worker to increase their hours to work full-time, remember you cannot just impose the change. Making changes to an employee’s contract will, in most cases, require you to obtain the employee’s consent. Failure to do this will normally result in a breach of contract.
To find out more or for support and guidance on your specific workplace challenge, seek advice.