Part-time workers

The Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 came into force on 1 July 2000. They translate into UK law the provisions of the EU Part-Time Workers Directive, giving part-time workers the right to receive the same access to benefits and entitlements as full-time workers. This means that no part-time worker should be treated less favourably in respect of any term and condition of employment than a comparable full-time worker, unless less favourable treatment can be justified on objective grounds.

The right for parents and carers to request a reduction in hours of work in order to fulfil their caring responsibilities also forms part of the University's flexible working procedure.

Within the University, departments must take particular care to ensure that:

  • all part-time staff receive the same access to training and promotion as full-timers;
  • all part-timers receive a pro rata entitlement to leave including bank holidays;
  • requests from full-timers (particularly those returning from maternity leave) to work part-time are given careful consideration, and permission is not unreasonably withheld; and
  • requests to work part-time which are submitted under the terms of the University's flexible working procedure are dealt with in accordance with the University's guidance for administrators.

Application of the regulations

The right not to be treated less favourably than a comparable full-time worker applies to rates of pay, including overtime for hours worked above normal full-time hours, contractual sick pay and maternity pay, access to occupational pensions or other benefits, training, promotion and leave arrangements. Most of these provisions are covered by university-wide arrangements. However, departments are responsible for ensuring that local arrangements in the following areas are compliant with the Regulations:

Access to training

Part-time workers should be eligible for training on the same basis as full-time staff. Where possible courses should be arranged so the part-time workers can attend within their normal working hours. Where this is not possible, and staff either wish to or are required to attend, they should either be paid (at a basic hourly rate) or given time off in lieu to enable them to attend.

Promotion

Previous or current part-time status must not be considered a barrier to promotion to a more senior post and where a part-time worker wishes to apply for a full-time position on a part-time basis this must be given serious consideration.

Annual leave, holiday, maternity leave and parental leave, fixed holidays and bank holidays

Part-time staff should receive the same leave entitlement, pro rata, as full-time workers. It is important to ensure that part-timers receive their pro rata entitlement to paid bank holidays and departmental fixed days of closure. This is particularly important where a part-timer who does not normally work on Mondays may not enjoy a full entitlement. Such staff should be compensated by an adjustment to their personal leave entitlement. Equally the personal leave allowance of part-time staff, who, because they always work on Mondays, may benefit disproportionately from bank holidays, will need to be adjusted.

Failure to comply with the Regulations

Departments should be aware that a part-time worker who considers that he or she has received less favourable treatment could request a written statement from the employer, which must give details of the reasons for the treatment. The employer must respond within 21 working days. Such statements are admissible as evidence in any proceedings, e.g. at an employment tribunal. Remedies for unfavourable treatment are the same as those applied to sex, race and disability discrimination cases, so that there is no upper limit for compensation. It is vital that you contact your HR Business Partner if any such issue is raised.

Guidance on dealing with requests to work part-time

Employment tribunals are increasingly applying strict tests of justifiability when employers refuse requests from employees to work part-time. This section provides guidance for departments in dealing with such requests.

Workers reducing hours/returning to work part-time after absence

Part-time workers are entitled to the same terms and conditions on a pro-rata basis when they transfer from full to part-time work after an absence from employment lasting less than 12 months (e.g. maternity leave, sickness).

Requests to increase or decrease hours

The Regulations recommend that employers should give serious consideration to requests to change to part-time working and consequently these requests should not be unreasonably refused, whether or not they are made under the terms of the University's flexible working procedure. In many cases, such requests will occur when a member of staff returns from maternity leave. Refusal to accommodate requests in these circumstances can have implications in relation to sex discrimination. Therefore where departments feel they may not be able to accommodate such requests, advice should be sought from their HR Business Partner.

Advertising vacancies

When advertising vacancies, departments should review whether part-time workers could perform the posts they are offering and whether or not this information might be included in the advertisement. If approached by an applicant wishing to work part-time, serious consideration should be given to such a request. Refusals must be objectively justifiable and based on operational requirements. Advice should be sought from HR Business Partners in such circumstances.