Employing part-time workers can be an efficient way to keep costs down in areas where you don't need full-time cover. It is also a way to build in flexibility so that you can respond to changes in demand and develop your business.
It is recommended that employers should do the following:
Employers of part-time workers must not treat them less favourably than full-time workers. Any treatment that puts part-time workers at a disadvantage could risk a complaint to an employment tribunal, or it could lead to a claim of indirect sex discrimination as the majority of part-time employees are women. A comparable full-time worker is one who works for the same employer and does similar work under the same type of contract.
This means that part-time workers must enjoy pro-rata terms and conditions including equal:
Part-time workers have the same rights and benefits - in proportion to the hours they work - as comparable full-time staff, unless you can justify the difference on objective grounds. For example, you may be justified in not allowing a part-time worker to join a health insurance scheme because of the disproportionate cost. Part-time workers who believe they are not treated equally can ask you for a written statement of reasons for this. You have 21 days in which to respond.
Part-time workers who still believe they are being treated unfavourably, and don't believe you have objectively justified this, can make a complaint to an Employment Tribunal. An Employment Tribunal can make you pay compensation if they find in the part-time worker's favour.
If a worker considers he/she is being treated less favourably, he/she can request a written statement from the employer detailing the reasons why he/she, is being treated less favourably. The employer must respond within 21 days. If the employer is unclear in his/her response, or fails to respond at all, then a Tribunal may draw adverse inferences.
A worker does not have the right to claim unfair dismissal, however, he/she does have the right to claim that he/she has been subjected to a detriment if he/she is subjected to detrimental treatment for any of the above reasons.
Irrespective of length of service, an employee may make a claim for unfair dismissal if he/she is dismissed for: