Part time or Fixed Term contract discrimination

Site updated on February 17, 2020

Since July 2000 it has been illegal to treat part-time workers less favourably than a full-time worker carrying out similar work at the same establishment. This applies to recruitment and selection as well as other terms and conditions of employment such as sick pay, bonuses, overtime rates etc. There is no specific threshold which means that a worker is part-time. You are classed as a part-time worker if you work fewer hours than a full time worker doing similar work to you at your place of work. Therefore if the standard hours of work at an organisation are 40 hour per week, a worker regularly working 35 hours a week would be classed as a part time worker at that establishment.

(Note: this legislation applies to all ‘workers’ – not just employees. As such casuals, zero hours,  agency staff, home workers, etc., are protected, as are temporary employees)

Also, Employers should not be tempted to make stereotypical assumptions about part-time workers – particularly during internal selection procedures: ‘I am not promoting her, she only works part time’, or ‘I would much prefer a full-timer, this is an important job’. These comments appear to discriminate against the worker for being part time, enabling the worker to take action, which could result in a tribunal case.

Being selected for redundancy, if this is in any way connected with working part time, is also  likely to be a breach of the Regulations.

This right starts from your first day at work

Part time workers should receive the same benefits as a comparable full time worker. This would include benefits such as staff discounts, annual bonuses, subsidised mortgages or career breaks, etc. These benefits can all be calculated on a pro rata basis to recognise the reduced hours a part time worker actually works.

If is is not possible to give you a particular benefit, you should receive an explanation from your Employer, perhaps even an improvement in other terms to compensate.

If you are unhappy with your treatment, and you suspect that it might be connected to being a part time worker, raise this with your Employer or Trade Union if there is one. Alternatively speak to our Help Line or contact a solicitor.


Rights for Fixed Term Contract staff

If you are employed on a fixed term contract (this is a contract with a finish date built in; or is specifically for the completion of a project) you gained some new employment rights from 1st. October 2002. An example would also be where you are employed on a Maternity Leave cover contract.

You are  entitled to the same broad employment package as employees doing similar work to you with your Employer, but who are on permanent status. The basic position is that you should not lose out on your terms of employment when compared to someone on the permanent staff. This extends to pay and pensions. This does not mean a like for like comparison on every benefit, it is  your overall package that is is taken into consideration; providing overall you are not being treated less favourably just because you are fixed term.

You are entitled to be informed about any permanent vacancies that arise with your Employer.

Another one of the main rights is that after you have worked for 4 years on a fixed term contract, your employer must be able to justify extending it further. It will be possible to extend it where the Employer has a good business case. If not, your contract will become permanent. The 4 year rule started in July 2002.

Another change is that the Employer cannot now exclude your rights to claim redundancy pay once you have had 2 years continuous service. If the fixed term offer includes restrictions on redundancy or unfair dismissal, these will not be enforced by a tribunal. This applies to contracts agreed or amended after October 2002. You should not be made redundant just because you are on a fixed term contract.

If your Fixed Term Contract is not renewed, this is classed as a dismissal and you should receive a notice period (look at your contract for this). You may be protected against unfair dismissal and discrimination for example.

If you are on a fixed term contract (or you have been offered one), or you have been dismissed and feel you have been unfairly treated, contact our Advice Line for further help.

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