SB Writes: As my business is growing, I have decided to employ some part-time workers to ease the workload. I have never employed part-time workers before and want to ensure I am following the correct protocols regarding hours, holiday pay etc. What information do I need to be aware of?

There is no set statutory definition of part-time and full-time workers. Part-time workers are often referred to as those that cannot be identified as full-time as per the usual practices of the particular organisation in question.

Part-time workers should not be treated any less favourably than full-time workers on the same type of contract. They should have no less favourable terms and conditions compared to full-time workers carrying out the same or similar work to them. All employees should have access to the same rights and procedures, such as grievance and disciplinary procedures. No part time worker should be treated less favourably than a full time worker where the treatment cannot be objectively justified.

Part-time workers are entitled to same family friendly rights – this includes the right to take maternity, paternity and adoption leave although their entitlement to the accompanying statutory payments may be affected if they do not earn enough per week to qualify. The same applies to statutory sick pay.

Benefits that are provided to workers on the basis of their working time can be reduced on a pro-rata basis for part-time workers e.g. annual leave entitlement.

Promotion opportunities should be available equally across the part-time and full-time workers. For that reason, training and development opportunities should be open to part-time, as well as, full-time staff. This will allow all staff to benefit from them and ensure they are developing their skills and enhancing their performance, in case a promotion opportunity arises. Similarly, if redundancies are inevitable, part-timers should not be selected first just by virtue of the fact that they work part-time. Automatically selecting part-time employees for redundancy may also give rise to a sex discrimination claim due to the majority of staff who work part-time being female.

If a part-time worker feel that they are subjected to less favourable treatment, it is within their right to request a written statement identifying any reasons and grounds for the treatment in question. The response to that must come within 21 days and if the employee is not satisfied that it is objectively justified, they can make a claim to an employment tribunal.