Part-time workers

Part-time workers' rights

A part-time employee or worker is someone who works fewer hours than a full-time employee or worker in the same organisation. There's no set number of hours that counts as full or part-time work.

How part-time workers are protected against less favourable treatment

By law (The Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000), part-time employees and workers are protected from being treated less favourably than a full-time 'comparator'.

This means they should not be any worse off than a full-time comparator for:

  • pay and leave – including for holiday, sickness absence, maternity, paternity, adoption and Shared Parental Leave
  • pension opportunities and benefits
  • training and career development
  • promotions, career breaks and job transfers
  • redundancy selection and pay

Benefits such as pay and leave are given pro rata for part-time employees and workers. Pro rata means in proportion to hours worked. For example, someone who works full time gets paid £28,000 a year. Someone working in the same role for half the hours should get paid £14,000.

What a comparator is

A comparator is someone who works full time for the same employer and is on the same type of contract as the part-time employee or worker.

The comparator must do the same or broadly similar work as the part-time employee or worker. This means taking into account whether they:

  • have a similar level of qualification, skills and experience
  • are based at the same organisation, or at a different one if there’s no comparator at the same one

Part-time workers and indirect sex discrimination

Sometimes more than one area of law can affect an employee or worker.

Part-time employees and workers are entitled to equal pay. If a part-time worker is paid less than someone of the opposite sex, it could be 'indirect sex discrimination'.

Indirect discrimination is when a working practice, policy or rule applies to everyone but puts one person or group at a disadvantage because of their sex unless the employer can justify it.

Find out more about:

Overtime pay

Some employers choose to offer pay to employees for working more hours than the employment contract says. This is usually called overtime pay.

Part-time employees and workers are not entitled by law to get overtime pay until they've worked more than the normal hours of a full-time worker. Your organisation might have a different policy about overtime, so you should check the contract.

Find out more about pay for working extra hours