Is it unlawful to discriminate against part-time workers?

Yes, such discrimination is prohibited by the Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations. Part-time workers have the statutory right, from day one of their job, to be treated the same as comparable full-time workers – that is, workers on the same type of contract with the same employer. The full-time worker you compare yourself with must be a real person who works where you work. It cannot be a hypothetical person, or an ex-colleague. 

If you cut your own hours from full- to part-time but carry on doing the same job (for example when returning to work after maternity leave), the law allows you to compare your new part-time terms and conditions with the conditions you enjoyed when working full-time.   

The employer has a defence if it can justify a difference between the terms and the full- and part-time workers’ terms on objective grounds. 

A part-time worker is entitled to receive, on request, a written statement of reasons for less favourable treatment from the employer. This statement (or absence of it) may be taken into account by an employment tribunal hearing a complaint under the regulations.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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