Business Law

Part-time Working in Your Business

The rights of part-time workers are protected by the Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 but unfortunately they do not give a helpful definition of part-time worker. 

The Regulations define a part-time worker as someone who “having regard to the custom and practice of the employer in relation to workers employed by the worker’s employer under the same type of contract, is not identifiable as a full-time worker”.  If you have some employees working the recognised norm of a 35 hour week, any employees working less than those hours will probably be part-time employees.

As is clear from the title of the Regulations, they are intended to prevent part-time workers being treated less favourably than full-time workers.  This means that part-time workers have the following entitlements:

  • to be paid the same hourly rate
  • to have access to an employer’s pension scheme
  • to annual leave
  • to maternity and paternity leave on a pro rata basis
  • to be paid sick pay
  • to have the same access to training as full-time workers

A part-time worker has the right not to be dismissed or to suffer detrimental treatment if they wish to enforce their rights. If you dismissed a part-time worker for trying to exercise or enforce their rights, this would be an automatically unfair dismissal.  The employee would have to be able to show the reason for their dismissal was the fact they were exercising their rights.  If they could demonstrate this, they would not need to prove any further about the fairness or otherwise of their dismissal. 

It is open to workers to request flexible working in certain circumstances, which may mean a change from full-time to part-time work.  Also, in the current economic climate many employers are having to restructure their workforce, both by way of redundancies and by way of decreasing working hours.  Therefore, it is important for employers to understand what rights their employees will have if they move to part-time work. 

For more information or if you would like to speak to us about our Employment services, please contact Cyril Dennemont or Marina Vincent on The rights of part-time workers are protected by the Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 but unfortunately they do not give a helpful definition of part-time worker.  The Regulations define a part-time worker as someone who “having regard to the custom and practice of the employer in relation to workers employed by the worker’s employer under the same type of contract, is not identifiable as a full-time worker”.  If you have some employees working the recognised norm of a 35 hour week, any employees working less than those hours will probably be part-time employees.

As is clear from the title of the Regulations, they are intended to prevent part-time workers being treated less favourably than full-time workers.  This means that part-time workers have the following entitlements:

  • to be paid the same hourly rate
  • to have access to an employer’s pension scheme
  • to annual leave
  • to maternity and paternity leave on a pro rata basis
  • to be paid sick pay
  • to have the same access to training as full-time workers

A part-time worker has the right not to be dismissed or to suffer detrimental treatment if they wish to enforce their rights.  If you dismissed a part-time worker for trying to exercise or enforce their rights, this would be an automatically unfair dismissal.  The employee would have to be able to show the reason for their dismissal was the fact they were exercising their rights.  If they could demonstrate this, they would not need to prove any further about the fairness or otherwise of their dismissal. 

It is open to workers to request flexible working in certain circumstances, which may mean a change from full-time to part-time work.  Also, in the current economic climate many employers are having to restructure their workforce, both by way of redundancies and by way of decreasing working hours.  Therefore, it is important for employers to understand what rights their employees will have if they move to part-time work.  

For further information please contact:

Marina Vincent on 020 8422 5678