The Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act 2001 aims to:
The Act abolishes the requirement that a part-time worker should be in the continuous hourly employment of the employer for not less than 13 weeks and should normally be expected to work not less than 8 hours per week. However, the calculation of continuous service for the purposes of entitlement under, for example, the unfair dismissals and redundancy legislation still applies. In effect, a part-time employee will still be required to have 12 months continuous service with his/her employer from the start of the employee's employment.
The entitlement of the part-time employee is in proportion to the entitlement of the full-time employee.
A part-time worker can be compared to a full-time worker when:
A part-time agency worker can only compare himself or herself to a comparable full-time employee who is also an agency worker. Likewise, a part-time employee, who is not an agency worker, cannot compare themselves to a full-time agency worker.
A part-time employee can be treated less favourably than a comparable full-time employee where such treatment can be justified in two circumstances:
"Objective grounds" for treating a part-time worker less favourably than a comparable full-time employee are based on considerations other than the status of the employee as a part-time worker. These grounds occur where the less favourable treatment is necessary for the purpose of achieving a legitimate objective of the employer.
However, what may be not considered as objective grounds in relation to less favourable treatment of a part-time employee may be considered objective grounds in relation to a casual part-time employee. (Casual employees are those with fewer than 13 weeks' service who are not in regular or seasonal employment or are casual based on a collective agreement to that effect.)
A part-time employee who normally works less than 20% of the normal hours of the comparable full-time employee can be treated in a less favourable manner with regard to a pension scheme or arrangement. However, this provision does not prevent an employer and a part-time employee from entering into an agreement whereby the part-time employee receives the same pension benefits as a comparable full-time employee.
Part-time workers are entitled to overtime if the full-time employee to which they compare themselves is paid overtime after working his/her maximum hours per week.
In order to claim overtime however, your employer can determine that part-time employees must work the same number of hours as a full-time employee before you can claim overtime. (In other words, if full time employees must work a 39 hour week before overtime rate of pay is paid, then your employer can state that part-time employees must work the same number of hours). In this case, if you work 20 hours per week, any hours worked between 20 and 39 hours must be paid at the normal rate.
Note that employers are not required by law to pay employees higher rates (that is, "double time") for work completed in overtime. You must however, receive at the very least, your normal hourly rate of pay for overtime.
An employer is not obliged to provide access to part-time work to his or her employees. The Code of Practice on Access to Part-Time Working (pdf) aims to encourage employers and employees to consider part-time work and to provide guidance on procedures to improve access to part-time work for those employees who wish to work on a part-time basis.
An employer is prohibited from penalising a part-time employee on the grounds that:
Penalisation: The following actions are considered to be penalisations of the employee:
Employers will not be considered to have penalised a part-time employee in certain circumstances. For example, in relation to a request by the employer that the employee transfers from full-time work to part-time work (or vice versa) when the following conditions are met:
Protection against penalisation: if an employee has less than one year's service and is dismissed within the meaning of the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1973 to 2007, they may refer a case to the Workplace Relations Commission under this Act.
Complaints, disputes or grievances regarding breaches of employment rights under certain legislation can be referred to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). You must notify your employer of your intention to contact the Workplace Relations Commission. Where legal entitlements are involved, you should try and resolve the matter locally before referring to the Workplace Relations Commission.
You apply regarding breaches of the Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act 2001 within 6 months of the breach occurring. You must use the online complaint form available on workplacerelations.ie. The time limit may be extended for up to a further 6 months, but only where there is a reasonable cause which prevented the complaint being brought within the normal time limit.
Further information may be obtained from this explanatory booklet on the employment protection of part-time workers (pdf) and from WRC Information and Customer Service - see 'Where to apply' below.
Information and Customer Services
Opening Hours: Mon. to Fri. 9.30am to 5pm
Tel: (059) 917 8990
Locall: 1890 80 80 90
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.