Part-time workers: Do you know their rights?

August 10, 2022

By Rachel Ford-Evans

A recent Supreme Court case on holiday pay for part-time workers is an important reminder of the rule that they must not be treated less favourably than their full-time colleagues.

In Harpur Trust v Brazel, the Supreme Court has ruled that term-time workers (who only work for part of the year, and are therefore classed as part-time) must have their holiday pay calculated in the same way as full-time employees, even if this results in them being paid more during their holidays in practice.

This was a complex and long-running case, but it will be especially significant for employers such as childcare providers, educational organisations and businesses which use seasonal employees.

However, as well as holiday rights, part-time workers also have the right under the Part-Time Workers’ Regulations 2000 (“PTWR”) not to be treated any less favourably than full-time workers in comparable roles to them.

The way this works in practice is as follows:

  1. Employers are only permitted to treat part-time workers differently by giving part-time workers proportional amounts of the benefits given to full-time staff. For example, for a part-time employee who works 3 days a week, an employer is entitled to pay them 60% of the salary it pays to a full-time employee in the same role – but the rate of pay must be the same.

  2. Employers must not forget to offer part-time staff the additional benefits (such as gym memberships, bonuses, pensions, or extra holidays) they offer to full-time staff. Failing to treat staff the same in this way is likely to be a breach of the PTWR.

  3. Part-time workers must also have the same access to training, development and promotion opportunities.

There are limited exceptions available to employers when they have a legitimate business reason to treat a part-time worker differently; otherwise, it is important to be very careful not to discriminate against part-time staff.

Many employers are unaware of these rights and fall foul of this rule, and the Harpur Trust v Brazel case is an important reminder of this. Employers should take the opportunity to audit the benefits, annual leave and opportunities they offer to their part-time staff and make sure that they are proportionally equivalent to the rights given to their full-time colleagues.

If you need any help or advice on any of the above, please contact Rachel Ford-Evans on rford-evans@darwingray.com / 02920 829 120 for a free initial chat to see how we can help you.

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