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Employment law guide

Part time workers

A part time worker is someone who is “paid wholly or in part by reference to the time he (or she) works and, 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.”

The Part Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations go on to specify that employees or workers employed under different types of contract including: a contract that is neither for a fixed term nor a contract of apprenticeship; a contract for a fixed term that is not a contract of apprenticeship; a contract of apprenticeship; workers who are neither employees nor employed under a contract for a fixed term; workers who are not employees but are employed under a contract for a fixed term; and any other description of worker that it is reasonable for the employer to treat differently from other workers on the ground that workers of that description have a different type of contract as included in the meaning of ‘part time worker’.

Under the Regulations, a part time worker has the right not to be treated by his or her employer less favourably than the employer treats a comparable full time worker as regards the terms of his or her contract; or by being subjected to any other detriment by any act, or deliberate failure to act, of his or her employer.

The right only applies if the treatment is on the grounds that the worker is a part time worker, and the treatment is not justified on objective grounds.

Part time workers can request a statement from their employer explaining the reason for specified treatment that they believe is contrary to the Regulations and have the right to make a complaint to an Employment Tribunal.

In so far as rates of pay and benefits are concerned the pro rata principle applies as between a full time worker and a part timer.