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Part Time Workers' Rights and Hours

Employers should not treat part-time workers any less 'favourably' than full-time workers. This guide explains the employment rights of part time workers in the United Kingdom.

WORKING PART TIME: UK employment laws generally protect part-time workers the same as full-time workers. The rights of part time workers means they should get the same treatment for:

  • Career break opportunities
  • Holiday entitlement
  • Rates of pay (including maternity, paternity and adoption leave and pay, and sick pay)
  • Staff selection for promotion and transfer (including redundancies)
  • Workplace pension opportunities and benefits
  • Workplace training and career development

The definition of a part time worker is someone working fewer hours than a full-time worker. As a rule, someone working full time would work at least 35 hours a week. But, full and part-time workers do not have any specific number of working hours.

As a rule, part timers and full timers all share equal rights and benefits of employment. Even so, some benefits will get applied as a ‘pro rata’ principal and in proportion to the number of hours worked.

An Example: A full-time worker might get a £1,000 bonus at Christmas time. A part-time worker might work half the number of hours as their counterpart.

Even though it is not associated with part time workers’ rights per se, their bonus is likely to be £500.

Note: Part time workers may not get overtime pay until they have worked more than the standard working hours of a full-time worker.

Treating Part Time Workers Differently

There are some situations that allow employers to treat part-time workers ‘differently’. They can do so through a process called ‘objective justification‘.

It means they do not have to treat part-time workers in exactly the same way. But, the employer must be able to show there is a valid reason for doing so.

An Example: An employer provides health insurance for full-time employees. Having been ‘objectively justified’ it was not offered to part-timers.
The reason given was that the costs were disproportionate to the benefits part-timers have entitlement to.
Even so, the employer may suggest an alternative. They could ask part-time workers to make a contribution to cover the extra cost involved.

Part-time Worker Treated Less Favourably

Some part time workers may feel they got treated less ‘favourably’ than the full timers. The first step would be to discuss it with their employer or a trade union representative.

Part time workers rights allow them to get a written statement of reasons. This is a written declaration for the treatment given to them by their employer. Once requested (in writing), the employer must reply back in writing and within 21 days.

Note: Workers can question the reasoning given and whether it was ‘objectively justified’. If not, in some cases you can take the case to an employment tribunal.

Employment Rights of Part Time Workers in the United Kingdom