Opinion

Part-time worker discrimination

24th October 2017

Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 (the “Regulations”) ensure that employers are unable to treat part-time workers less favourably than their full-time colleagues. The Regulations remove the need to pursue sex discrimination or equal pay claims which are more complex and can have significant cost implications.

In British Airways v Pinaud, the part-time employee in question had worked with BA for a significant amount of time. Following her return from maternity leave in 2005, the employee returned on a part-time basis. She remained part-time for 10 years until taking voluntary redundancy.

During the course of the employee’s full-time working pattern, she worked a period of six days on and three days off. The part-time working pattern was described as “14/14” which required 10 days availability every fortnight. BA described this working pattern as a 50 percent contract with annual basic salary amounting to 50 percent of full-time pay. The EAT found that whilst full-time staff worked 243 days in a year, part-time staff worked 130 days. Part-time staff were therefore working 53.5 percent of full-time hours. Despite this, part-time staff still only received 50percent of full-time pay.

The EAT found that the part-time employee was able to demonstrate that she worked hours of 53.17 percent and 53.85 percent whilst only receiving 50percent of pay. The EAT therefore upheld the tribunal’s finding of less favourable treatment. However, BA argued that the tribunal had not considered vital statistical evidence in assessing whether working hours and pay arrangements were a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. Therefore, the case has been referred to a new Employment Tribunal in order to consider the question of whether the treatment of the employee was a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim.

Employer Considerations

Pinaud acts as an important reminder to employers that employ both full and part-time employees, that part-time staff must be treated equally and with consistency. In particular, where part-time employees are paid a set basic pay but work on variable hours, the precise number of hours that they work should be meticulously logged. This will help to ensure that part-time employees are properly remunerated in a manner that is fair and equal with that of their full-time counterparts.

 

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