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.
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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.