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The Rights of Part-Time Workers

Part-time worker rights and what a recent poll shows?

In a recent poll by Timewise it was found that nearly half of all workers would not trust a part-time colleague with an important or business critical task. While this has reduced significantly from a previous poll, in which this number was 72%, it shows the potential for employers (often through an employee’s actions) to run foul of the law in this area.

What rights does a part-time worker have?

In summary, a part-time worker has the right not to be treated less favourably than a comparable full-time worker either:

•             In respect of the terms of their contract.

•             By being subjected to any other detriment by any act, or deliberate failure to act, by their employer.

In 2000, the Part Time Workers Regulations (the ‘PTW Regulations’) were brought in to protect part-time workers from less favourable treatment to a full-time colleague in the same or a similar role. For example, a part-time worker should legally not be overlooked for training or career-progression opportunities and also should have the same access to company benefits such as car parking, healthcare schemes etc.

Furthermore an employee has the right to claim that a dismissal is automatically unfair if the reason or principal reason for the dismissal is that they have done (or the employer believes or suspects that they have done or intend to do) any of the following:

  • Brought proceedings against the employer under the PTW Regulations.
  • Requested a written statement of reasons for less favourable treatment under regulation 6 of the PTW Regulations.
  • Given evidence or information in connection with any proceedings under the PTW Regulations.
  • Otherwise done anything under the PTW Regulations in relation to the employer or any other person.
  • Alleged that the employer has infringed the PTW Regulations (except where the allegation is false and not made in good faith).
  • Refused (or proposed to refuse) to forgo a right conferred on them by the PTW Regulations.

What is more, depending on the circumstances, a part-time worker may have a claim for sex discrimination.

In light of the survey findings why do employers need to take care?

The difficulty is that a failure to trust part-time colleagues with an important task, may, depending on the circumstances, in itself, amount to discrimination against part-time workers. It certainly seems to show that people still think of part-time workers in a more negative light than they do their full-time colleagues and it would be a concern that this attitude could then, in turn mean other detrimental treatment for part-time workers.

Action points for an employer

Employers should consider providing training to employees so they understand their rights and obligations in this area. As this isn’t a well-known area of law it would be easy for an employee to breach these obligations and it is also important for part-time members of staff to understand what legal rights and protection they are entitled to.

What can you do?

If you are a part-time worker looking for advice or an employer looking to make provision/offer additional training around part-time working, please contact Talbots Law so that our specialist Employment Law team can assist you.

Call 0800 118 1500 or email emmamonk@talbotslaw.co.uk