It is sometimes overlooked by organisations that the terms they offer their part-time workers are no less favourable than their full-time comparator.
Whilst common sense would suggest that terms should be “prorated” to reflect the reduced hours, i.e. hours, pay, holidays, benefits, etc. it can often be overlooked and sometimes issues arise which are not that obvious!
Note, there are no set number of hours which make someone full or part-time. A part-time worker is someone who works less than the basic full-time hours within that organisation. Typical examples are job share, term-time, evening or weekend work and casual/bank work.
The care sector, in particular, has a significant majority of part-time workers all of who gain the protection afforded by legislation.
The Prevent of Less Favourable Treatment (Part-time Worker) Regulations 2000
The Prevent of Less Favourable Treatment (Part-time Worker) Regulations 2000 give protection to part-time workers ensuring that they:
- Receive the same rates of pay
- Are not be excluded from training simply because they work part-time
- Receive holidays pro rata to comparable full-timers
- Have any career break schemes, contractual and parental leave made available to them in the same way as for full-time workers
- Are not dismissed, victimised or selected for redundancy for asserting their rights as a part-time worker
Objective Justification – Part-Time Workers
An employer will need to objectively justify (proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim) the reason why they treat part-time staff differently, and show the reason can meet a genuine business need.
An example of objective justification would include a part-time worker who is denied health insurance, even though a comparable full-time worker has one, because of the disproportionate cost to the organisation of providing the benefit.
A recent case, British Airways v Pinaud 2017, highlighted the ease at which things can slip through the net and amount to less favourable treatment. The case involved cabin crew. Full time crew worked a 6 days on/3 days off pattern and had 122 days off each year. Part-time crew worked a 14/14 pattern with ten available days required each fortnight. This meant that they had to be available for 130 days of the year, more than 50% of the fill time crew (3.5% more). It was argued that the bidding system for work and bid choices on the BA system created this anomaly but it was still held to less favourable treatment.
The case serves as an important reminder to ensure parity of terms between full-time and part-time staff, albeit prorated to reflect reduced hours.
The most typical query relates to holidays, in particular bank holidays where a part-time employee may only work Tuesday to Thursday, and so not present in the business on bank holidays which fall on a Monday or Friday, etc. This can create some anomalies if you don’t pro-rata the holidays correctly. We recommend that, for part-time staff, you ignore the concept of bank holidays and simply given them a total annual pro-rata allocation based on the total days holiday (including bank holidays) that a full timer would have, i.e. 25 days plus bank holidays equals 33 days. A part-time employee working 3 out of 5 days, would entitled to 3/5 of 33 days, i.e. 20 days. Where the business is closed for a bank holiday they must book a day off from their total allocation. This approach resolves the headache around part-time staff and holiday allocation.
Other issues can arise when a full-time employee with a company car seeks to reduce their hours. In the circumstances, there may be a justified business reason to remove the car from the part-time worker but, to ensure it is proportionate, compensation for the loss of value built into the remuneration package.
If you are unsure you are giving comparable terms/benefits, etc., conduct an audit and identify any anomalies and take action to remedy it sooner rather than later.