19 Feb 2021
For some roles, it makes little sense to employ someone on a full time basis. Part time working may also suit employees with other commitments more. So you should be familiar with the rights that law entitles to part time workers.
There is no threshold that allows you to class someone as a part time worker. This, plus the fact that there is a legal obligation to treat them equal to full time workers make it a difficult area to navigate, as you may see your full time staff in a more favourable light.
However, if part time workers are treated less favourably than those who worked full time hours, you can face discrimination claims in an employment tribunal. With these comes with them an unlimited fine with no minimum service period.
In this piece, we’ll review some different rights your employees have, and how they differ for part time staff.
Employment rights for part time workers
Part time employees have legal rights from day one of employment. There is no minimum length of service for equal treatment to apply.
This applies to workers as well as employees and covers matters such as pay, overtime, holiday entitlement and more.
The basic rights all part time workers have include:
- The right to work in a safe and healthy working environment
- The right to not be discriminated against
- The right to be paid the national minimum wage (NMW)
- The right to be accompanied by a representative at a formal grievance and disciplinary hearing
If a part-time worker thinks they are being treated less favourably, they should first discuss the issue with their line manager. They can then ask for a written statement from you, explaining the reason for the less favourable treatment.
This request should be in writing, and you should give a response within 21 days. If it does not satisfy the worker, with the reason, they may make a claim to the employment tribunal.
Holiday rights for part time workers
Annual leave is often a difficult area for employers to understand. Part time workers rights and holiday often raises questions due to part time patterns of work. Fortunately, the answer to many of the issues raised is quite simple:
Holiday entitlement for part time workers is the same for full time employees.
You cannot round down the number of days you give them, as the law may see this as favourable treatment.
But what about part time workers rights and bank holiday?
The same rule applies. If you give employees additional time off for bank or public holidays, you must do so for part time workers as well.
There can be some confusion with this practice, as it can mean placing some workers at a disadvantage. If you’re unsure whether you’re treating all your employees fairly, speak to one of our expert HR team members 0145 585 8132.
Sick pay rights for part time workers
As with annual leave and the national minimum wage, part time employees have the same entitlements as full time staff.
This means they get the same statutory sick leave and pay as your regular, full time employees. This is £95.85 per week for up to 28 weeks.
Part time worker redundancy rights
Staff working part time still have rights regarding redundancy.
For example, they still have the right to a redundancy notice period. The length of this period will depend on how long they have worked for you, or what their contracts states.
If they have worked for you for less than two years, then the legal minimum you must give them is one week’s notice. If it’s more than two years, you must give them one week’s notice for each year of employment.
Remember to always check their contract. This might state that they receive a more generous notice entitlement.
Legally, you must also pay employees redundancy pay, so long as they have two years’ continuous service. You also need to check that they are legally an employee and not a worker.
Part time workers – overtime rights
If a full time worker receives an enhanced rate of pay for overtime, a part time worker should too. This is because you mus treat them no less favourably than a full time employee.
There is no obligation for you to pay them an overtime rate until they’ve met the threshold of overtime set for your full time employees, nor are you obliged to offer overtime at all.
The key thing to do is to give equal treatment to both types of employees.
Part time workers – pension rights
As you must treat a part time employee the same as a full time one, this extends to benefits, including pensions.
If you offer an occupational pension scheme, then part time employees have the right to join it too. Any pension you do provide should be on a pro rata basis and reflect the hours the employee works.
There are some circumstances where you might not provide a part time employee with access to the pension you provide to others, but you must be able to objectively justify not providing it.
Do you have any questions?
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