Dispelling Part Time Myths

Peninsula Team

July 29 2009

If you are unsure about the rights of a part-time worker in your business, give the Peninsula Advice Service a call on 0844 892 2772, where one of our advisors will be happy to answer your queries and tell you everything you need to know. The Advice Service operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year so someone is always on hand to help.

There are many misconceptions about part time employees. Some are as a result of employers not realising that the previous legislative restrictions have been repealed and others because the information has not always been clearly explained as rules have come in.

Part time employees have the same statutory rights as their full time equivalent. Any contractual rights should, wherever possible, be the same for part time employees as for full time employees. If there is a legitimate reason for different treatment then this would have to be objectively justified and, overall, the contractual terms should be no less favourable.

Part time employees have the same holiday entitlements as full time employees, although these will be applied on a pro-rata basis. There are also the same rights to bonuses, access to the pension scheme, company cars, sick pay and redundancy pay. Any length of service entitlement is not adjusted for part time workers so if a full time employee would qualify for company sick pay after 1 year then a part time employee would also only require 1 year of qualifying service.

One of the biggest mistakes companies make is in redundancy situations where they reduce the number of roles and will not consider retaining part time employees as they only have full time roles left. Companies cannot select for redundancy on the basis of part time status. A company would need to discuss with the part time employee if they would be willing to work full time and see if there was anyone else willing to work on a part time basis to see if the number of full time equivalents can re reached.

Contracts need to be clear in respect of overtime payments. They should set out the number of hours that an employee would have to work in a week before they can get any increased overtime rate. This number of hours is not subject to a pro-rata for part time employees so if employees need to work over 40 hours a week to obtain an increased overtime rate then that number of hours applies equally to full and part time staff.

Employers cannot insist that part time employees book all their appointments outside of working time although this can be requested as much as possible. Employers should refrain from reorganising rotas to make ante-natal appointments fall on non-work days otherwise they run the risk of a claim of discrimination for reasons relating to pregnancy.

There is no statutory right to work part time. Employees have the right to request part time work and can make a flexible working application if they meet the requirements. There is no obligation on an employer to agree to the request although any requests should be considered and not unreasonably refused. A flexible working request can only be made once every 12 months and has to be for the purpose of looking after children. Part time work can also be considered as a potential reasonable adjustment for a disabled employee where appropriate.

Remember, Peninsula’s 24 Hour Advice Service operates 365 days a year so whenever you have any issues regarding part-time employees, or any other employee query, call through to the Advice Service on 0844 892 2772 at any time and someone will be ready to take your call.

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