first_imgNew protection for part-timersOn 15 Feb 2000 in Personnel Today In January 2000 the DTI published a consultation document introducing thenew draft part-time employees (prevention of less favourable treatment)regulations, together with a short consultation document. The consultationperiod ends on 27 February and it is intended the regulations will become lawby May 2000.The new rightsThe regulations implement the 1997 European directive on part-timers. Thedirective had two distinct elements: the prohibition of less favourable prorata treatment of part-timers and the encouragement of part-time work andprovision of information concerning part-time work by employers. The draftregulations recently published contain the former but not the latter.The draft regulations introduce the substantive right to equal, pro ratatreatment, and provide ancillary protection for part-timers from dismissal orbeing subjected to a detriment for exercising or attempting to exercise rightsunder the regulations. The principle of pro rata equality of treatment isdefined in terms of a direct comparison between the part-time employee and acomparator full-time employee (who should be identifiable as such having regardto the custom and practice of the employer, and where relevant, the contract ofemployment). To be used as the comparator, the full-time employee must beengaged in the same or broadly similar work as the part-time employee, have abroadly similar level of qualifications, skills and experience and work in thesame establishment (or another establishment if there are no full-timers in theestablishment in which the part-timer works).Contract of employmentThe substantive right is for part-timers not to be treated less favourably,pro rata, as regards the terms of his or her “contract ofemployment”. The right applies only if the treatment is on the ground thatthe employee is a part-timer and again only if the treatment is not objectivelyjustified. No guidance is given as to exactly what the test for suchjustification will be. This will cover all pay and benefits, with equivalentaccess to training. The new right will be most difficult for employers wherenon-cash benefits have been provided, such as private medical cover and companycars, since these are not easily divisible in the way salary is.It is recommended all employers undertake an audit of benefits provided tofull-timers but not part-timers, and consider the arguments justifying currentpractices. Many employers use a “cafeteria” system of benefits whichmay assist in this regard, in that the employer can show part-timers arechoosing benefits up to a pro rata value as compared to full-timers. If apart-timer believes he or she may have been treated unlawfully under theregulations, he or she may request a written statement giving the reasons forthe treatment, to be provided within 14 days. A failure to provide this willallow a tribunal to infer unlawful treatment.SummaryThe regulations will make it much easier for part-timers to insist on prorata equality. Currently the only avenue open to them is to claim under theindirect sex discrimination laws, which are rather oblique, and particularlydifficult for men. There are approximately 6 million part-time employees inGreat Britain and the Government believes 1 million of these will have acomparable full-time employee. Now is the time for employers to plan!by Russell Brimelow, Head of the employment group Boodle Hatfield Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more