Part-time workers – what are your rights?

Henry_DoswellAccording to Timewise, the jobsite focused on professional part-time jobs, more than half a million people in the UK are now working in a part-time job paying a full-time equivalent of at least £40,000 per year. Yet the large majority of people in the UK (some 72%) still think that ‘you cannot work a senior career on a part-time basis’. It seems a significant stigma remains in the UK over working ‘part-time’, so what are a part-time worker’s employment rights?

Under UK employment law part-time workers have the right to be treated equally to comparable full-time workers who work for the same employer and undertake similar work under the same type of employment contract. These rights are governed by the Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000.

The requirement to be employed by the same employer on the same type of contract means that there cannot be a comparison between workers and employees although there can be comparisons between part-time workers and full-time workers who are either on a fixed term contract or permanent contract.

The right to equal treatment means receiving the same contractual terms on a pro-rata basis and not suffering detrimental treatment. It only applies however if unfavourable treatment occurs as a result of the worker’s part-time status and cannot be justified on objective grounds. For instance an employer would be able to justify withholding health insurance if it can show that the cost of providing this benefit is disproportionate.

Examples of equal treatment include receiving the same hourly rate of pay, the same contractual maternity/paternity leave and participating in the same profit sharing or share option schemes as full-time workers on a pro-rata basis. Also part-time status should not be a barrier to promotion to a post, whether full or part-time. Even in a redundancy situation the criteria used to select jobs has to be objectively justified and cannot treat part-time workers less favourably.

Workers who go from full-time to part-time work with the same employer do not need to find a comparable full-time worker but are entitled to the same contractual rights as before even if the contracts are not the same. A full-time worker returning to work part-time following a period of absence is only entitled to the same contractual rights if their absence is less than 12 months from the day on which it started.

If you feel you are being unfairly treated by your employer then you should raise a formal grievance. You can also ask them for a written statement of the reasons for the treatment. This statement would need to be provided by your employer within 21 days of the request. This statement or a failure to provide it can be used as evidence in the employment tribunal. As a last resort an employment tribunal can award compensation to a part-time worker if unfavourable treatment is found.

Thomas Mansfield LogoFor further information or to obtain specific legal advice speak to an employment law specialist at ThomasMansfield on 020 7377 2829 or visit

The information given in this article does not constitute legal advice.

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