Written by: Toni Foot
Who says you can’t have it all? A family, a career, and time for you appears to be the impossible dream, but this seemingly unacheivable fairytale is a satisfying reality for many people who choose to work part time. This appears to be the answer for busy couples, with one parent working full-time and the other acquiring a part-time position to increase the household finances, with minimum disruption to family life.
Advantages of part time work
It is understandable that in this economic climate it is becoming a necessity for both parents to work, yet many would question the feasibility of maintaining a career whilst still being able to make the school run. Fortunately, employers are realising the advantages that come with offering flexible working hours, including the fact they can now employ a talented workforce that they would not have had access to previously if such accommodations were not being made. The Government has made it easier still by introducing fresh legislation that gives part time workers the same rights as their full-time working colleagues.
Fewer hours does not equate to fewer rights. Here are the entitlements for those who work less than 35 hours per week:
Rates of Pay and Administrative Documentation
As a part time employee you will receive the same rate of hourly pay as your full-time co-workers in the same position and you will also be entitled to all other relevant rights that are held by a full-time employee. These rights include specific details of the amount you will be paid, the date you will receive your wages and how you will be paid (cash, cheque or by transfer directly to your bank account). You will also receive a wage slip which, in addition to your wage, should list any deductions for tax and National Insurance.
You should also receive all necessary information about joining the company’s pension scheme and have equal access to any other benefits your employer is providing. However, benefits such as bonuses can be given at pro rata rates, with an employee who works half the amount of hours receiving half the amount of bonus.
Equal rights does not necessarily mean an equal amount of time when it comes to holidays, but it does mean that as a part time employee you should receive the equivalent amount of paid holiday relative to the hours you work each week. For example, a person who works the average five day week is entitled to 5.6 weeks annual leave. Using the calculation, 5 x 5.6, this equates to 28 days per year. Therefore, if you work for two days of the week, you are still entitled to 5.6 weeks per year, but as your working week is shorter, you will receive 2 x 5.6, which equals 11.2 days of paid annual leave. It is worth noting that there is a cap on holiday entitlement at 28 days paid leave per year, and therefore employees working in excess of five days per week will still only receive 28 days holiday.
Employers can choose to include bank holidays as part of an employee’s statutory annual leave.
Redundancy, Promotion and Transfer Rights
As a part time employee you cannot be overlooked for promotion or transfer merely on the grounds that you work fewer hours than a full-time worker. Where redundancy is concerned, you must be treated like any other employee and may receive rights such as adequate notice, redundancy pay, the opportunity to transfer to a different position in the same company and time away from work to search for new employment. Any perceived discrimination during redundancy proceedings, including selection owing to race, gender, age or pregnancy may be viewed as unfair dismissal.
There are rare occasions when an employer can give certain benefits to full-time workers and not to those employed on a part time basis. In these cases, an employer must prove “objective justification”.