Part-time employees

Many smaller businesses choose to employ staff on a part-time basis. This often has the advantage of controlling costs when there is no need for a full-time worker and of adding flexibility to the running of the business.

It also means that a business is better able to adapt to changes in demand for its goods or services.

Given that some people would prefer to work part-time, a business that is looking to recruit will have access to a wider pool of candidates, often with good skills and experience.

Types of part-time working

Part-time work is defined as that which involves a contract or agreement for an employee to work fewer than the normal basic full-time hours.

Most part-time posts involve working for parts of the week or day; this may consist of mornings or afternoons, or two or three complete days a week.

There are other ways of managing part-time work. These include zero-hours contracts where employees are available for work whenever their services are needed and where there are no set hours or times of work; job-sharing where two people are allocated a full-time position between them; and term-time work where employees only work during the school term.

Rules governing part-time employment

Employers need to be aware that part-time employees have employment rights in the same way that full-time members of staff do. Should an employer treat a part-time employee unfairly, they can leave themselves open to a claim of indirect sexual discrimination. This is because more women tend to work part-time than men.

In general, an employer must not treat a part-time member of staff less favourably than a comparable full-time member of staff. In other words, no less favourably than a full-time employee who also works for the same employer and carries out the same sort of duties on a similar contract of employment.

Part-time employees must have the same rights and benefits as full-time employees in relation to the hours they are contracted to work.

Specifically, the law says that a part-time employee must be paid the same hourly rate as a full-time comparable employee. They must be paid the same hourly overtime rate as a full-time comparable employee, but only when they have completed more than the normal number of hours worked by a comparable full-time employee.

They must not be denied access to training because they only work part-time. They must be treated in the same way as a full-time employee when an employer is looking to promote staff or to make redundancies. They must have the same entitlement to annual leave, sick pay, maternity and parental leave on a pro rata basis as full-time colleagues. They must have an entitlement to such benefits as company pension schemes, share-option schemes, discounts and health insurance.

Where an employer treats a part-time worker less favourably than a full-time employee, they must show that it is necessary and objective. A company benefit, for instance, may prove to be disproportionately expensive for a part-time employee.

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SJD Accountancy are the UK's largest specialist provider of fixed fee, Limited company accountancy services to contractors; we've been acting for contractors across the UK since 1992 and have more than 15,000 clients.

We are the only national specialist firm of contractor accountants with offices nationwide. SJD Accountancy has more qualified staff than any other firm in our market with qualifications from the following major tax and accountancy bodies - ATT, AAT, CTA, ACCA, CA, ACA and FCCA.

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