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Part-time rights in the workplace

Anybody who’s worked a part-time job knows what it means to be a second-class citizen. The joking comments (usually well-meaning banter along the lines of ‘nice of you to pop in’, but always barbed) are endless, but so common, they’re often accepted without complaint. What’s more, despite often achieving more results (pro rata) in the time they spend at work, the advancement opportunities for part-timers are often scarce as full-time availability is often a basic assumption for any role or project. And by way of salt in the wound, many people employed part-time just assume that they only have ‘part-employment’ rights too.

The general principle is …

Look on the UK government website and you’ll find that part-time workers have the same rights and benefits as their full-time colleagues. Regardless of contracted hours, opportunities should be equal when it comes to matters such as selection for promotion, training, and career development. On other matters, part-time entitlements may be pro rata, depending on the number of hours worked, but the general principle is still one of equality.

Part-time employees' rights

Drawing on the gov.uk website again, part-timers get the same treatment as everyone else when it comes to rates of pay (less pay for less hours but calculated at the same rates) and entitlements such as sick pay, maternity and paternity leave and pay and adoption leave.

  • Holidays/paid leave: the same as everyone else, pro rata. Part days can’t be rounded down, but can result in an entitlement that is expressed in days and hours.
  • Public holidays: if everyone else gets the day off for a bank holiday that falls on a day that isn’t in a part-time worker’s contracted hours, that worker should get additional time off, pro rata.
  • Redundancy: again, any entitlements and calculations should be based on the same formulas applied to the worker’s contracted hours. And under no circumstances should part-time status be a criteria for whether someone is selected for redundancy or not.

Likewise, a worker’s hours shouldn’t be a factor when deciding on issues such as training, pensions and benefits, bonuses or opportunities for future development. Of course, holidays and bonuses are examples of entitlements that vary according to the contracted hours.

When employing part-time staff …

  • Provide all jobs with a detailed description to keep responsibilities clear.
  • Base your appraisals and performance targets against each individual’s output and not their contracted hours.
  • Train your managers – they need to understand the rights of part-time workers and, in particular, related issues such as the flexible working options available.

Finally, what do part-timers have that full-timers don’t?

The right not to be treated less favourably than their full-time colleagues, as enshrined in the Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations, introduced in 2000.

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