HR Expert: Part-Time Workers

My client is about to take on a part-time worker for the first time, what sort of things do they need to know?

Hiring a part-time worker can be a great way for your client to bring in skilled individuals who may be unable to offer their services on a full-time basis. Part-time employment can be particularly appealing to those with childcare commitments, or other outside responsibilities, and it is essential that your client has a good understanding of their rights.

Although part-time staff are unlikely to exceed the maximum weekly working time limit of 48 hours, they are still protected under the Working Time Regulations 1998. As a result, part-time staff will still be entitled to the same statutory rest breaks and time off in between shifts as full-time staff.

The Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 requires that part-time staff are not treated any less-favourably then their full-time colleagues. There is no minimum period of service to qualify for this protection and your client may face tribunal proceedings for unlawfully withholding certain employment rights.

This legislation states that part-time staff should not miss out on any training or induction programme as a result of their part-time hours. Therefore, your client should structure these programmes to be at the most convenient times for the majority of staff, including part-timers, and run additional sessions if necessary.

Your client must ensure that part-time workers receive the same basic and enhanced hourly rates of pay as comparable full-time workers. This could include payments such as shift allowances, bonuses, unsocial hours payments or other additional payments.

Part-time workers must be granted the same amount of annual leave as a comparable full-time worker, albeit on a pro rata basis. To put this into perspective, if your client offers full-time staff who work five days a week, six weeks of paid annual leave each year then they will be entitled to 30 days in total. At the same time, part-time staff, who work just 2 days a week will be entitled to two-fifths of the full-time amount, which would be 12 days.

The pro-rata principle is also relevant to public holidays as this will avoid any issues where part-time workers who don’t work Mondays find themselves missing out on several bank holidays as a result. Taking this approach will also ensure that bank holiday pay for part-time workers remains fair and proportionate.

Selecting part-time workers for redundancy before full-time employees on the basis of their part-time status is likely to be less favourable treatment, in the absence of any objective justification. Having said this, if it materialises that a part-time worker is selected for redundancy on fair grounds then your client must provide them with statutory redundancy pay if they have employee status.

Essentially, your client needs to keep in mind that part-time staff should be afforded the same rights and opportunities as a full time comparator on the whole. Sticking to the pro-rata principle will allow your client to ensure their treatment of a part-time worker is fair and reduce the risk of any tribunal proceedings.

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