Part Time Workers Regulations – Rights & UK Employment Law

The Part Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 introduced new rights for part time workers.

The regulations make sure that part time workers cannot be treated any less favourably in their employment contracts than their full time workmates.

This measure was introduced to put in place decent minimum employment standards. The law aims to promote a flexible and competitive workforce, and equal opportunities in the workplace.

What is a Part Time Worker?

A part time worker is someone who works less hours than a full time worker in the same company.

How Many Hours is Part Time?

There’s no fixed number of hours which determine whether a worker is part time or not. However, a worker is usually considered full time if they work 35 hours a week or more.

See also: How many hours is full time vs part time – we take an in depth look at the different types of work contracts.

Less Favourable Treatment of Part Time Workers

Part time workers regulations say that you have the right to be treated fairly compared with your full time colleagues. But how can you identify if you are getting less favourable treatment? What differences are fair?

If there are differences in contractual benefits, between part timers and “equivalent” full time workers the reason for them must be “objectively justified”. That means there must be a good reason for a full time worker having better terms than part timers.

An equivalent full time worker is any other member of staff who you could compare yourself with. You might be able to compare your terms with someone doing the same job as you. But you can also look at a worker doing a similar role elsewhere in the business.

What might be unfair? If your employer offers benefits like healthcare to full time employees and not part timers, this would be less favourable treatment.

Part Time Workers Regulations Say Part Timers are Entitled to the Same:

  • Hourly rate of pay. Part time workers must get at least the same rate of pay as a full time worker doing a similar job. A lower rate of pay can only be applied if it can be justified on performance grounds. The employer can also set the threshold for enhanced overtime pay rates to be the same for all workers. That means a part time worker might have to work as many hours as a full time worker before enhanced rates apply.
  • Access to company pension schemes. Other benefits like company cars, bonuses, and health insurance should be given on a pro rata basis if possible.
  • Entitlements to annual leave should be given on the same basis as full time workers. All employees have the right to a minimum amount of paid holidays each year. Where an employer offers an enhanced amount of paid leave, part time workers should get the same on a pro rata basis. Where a workers part time hours mean a full day can’t be taken, the employer should offer this in hours. Paid holiday entitlement should not be rounded down.
  • Entitlement to sick pay, maternity and paternity leave, and adoption leave. If an employer offers more than statutory minimum rates of pay to full time workers, part timers should get the same.
  • Equal treatment in access to workplace training. Part time workers shouldn’t be excluded because they don’t work full time. Where possible, training courses should be arranged to allow attendance.

The part time workers regulations also cover you if you are a part time worker contracted by an agency. However, part time agency workers cannot compare their employment terms to full time workers.

Why You Might Choose to Work Part Time

The reasons for working part time vary from individual to individual. Perhaps you want to have a better Work Life Balance. You may have young children at nursery or school or maybe you have caring responsibilities.

Part time hours allow access to flexible working patterns. You may be returning to work after illness and feel part time hours are more suitable for the time being.

For workers at college or university, part time hours allow you to pursue your studies whilst earning extra money.

Benefits to Employers in Employing Part Time Workers

Employing part time members of the workforce increases flexibility to employers in order to better manage workloads.

This in turn can increase productivity and Reduce Absenteeism and stress amongst other staff members. It also allows a wider pool of candidates from which to recruit for new positions within the company. A pool of flexible workers gives the employer better ability to respond to change and demands within the business. This is also true during busy periods like Christmas and can give extra cover for holidays.

A slight downside is that you may incur higher staffing costs of employing part time workers. This is due to the extra induction, training and administration needed. However, this is usually balanced by the additional value that a good part time worker brings to the company.

Companies today are likely to use or seriously be considering using part time members of staff amongst their workforce.

Over 7 million people in the UK, one in four of the workforce, now work part time. This is the second highest proportion of the country’s working population in the EU, only behind Holland.

Increasing demand for fast and efficient customer service and the 24 hour economy means that there will always be roles for part time workers in busy working environments.

5 thoughts on “Part Time Workers Regulations – Rights & UK Employment Law

  1. Lainie says:

    I work 15 hours a week but have been off sick since 10th June this year due to severe pain in my right hand. My employer has asked for my medical records relating to my period of sickness and the likely hood of me being able to return to work. After receiving this my employer has asked me to a meeting to discuss being paid off unfit for work. Can you tell me where I stand with this. The meeting is scheduled for this Wednesday and I would like to take someone with me for support but they say it must be a colleague or a union rep which I don’t have and I work on my own.

  2. Kaz says:

    I have a contract to work Saturday and Sunday but I also have worked every Friday for the past 5 years am I entitled to have these hours added to my contract .

  3. Maz says:

    I have been working for my current employer for just over 6 years on a part time basis. I work on a Wednesday for 8 hours. My employers have now had a new building erected and I (and other colleagues) have been told we must sign a new contract. I work as a checkout operator and have been told that I have to now split my day into two shifts of 8 hours. (I think to save on pai Yk g for tea breaks). I asked if I could do 8 til 12, go home and then come back at 2 and work til 6. I was told no, I can’t. I do not want to take up 2 days of being committed, but said at a push I would do it. Where do I stand please? Thank you

  4. gazm says:

    I have a part time contract and my employer won’t give me full time, so I have been doing overtime for the past year. I was told by a work college that they have to give me the hours in my contract to make it full time, is there any truth to this if so where.can I get a copy of this

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