Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act 2001
What is a “part-time” worker?
A part-time employee is an employee whose normal hours of work are less than the normal hours of a comparable employee. People who share a job (see below) are viewed as part-time workers and have all the statutory entitlements of part-time workers.
What is a comparable employee?
A comparable employee (called a comparator) is one who is doing the same or similar work. The work of the part-time employee must be of equal or greater value to the comparator’s work. The comparable employees must be employed by the same or an associated employer, or in the same industry or sector, or designated as such in a collective agreement.
In general, a part-time employee may not be treated less favourably than a comparable full-time employee in respect of conditions of employment, including pay and pensions, unless the employer can objectively justify the different treatment. Any justification offered cannot be connected with the fact that the employee is on a part-time contract.
In relation to a pension scheme or arrangement, an employee who normally works less than 20 per cent of the normal hours of the comparable full-time employee can be treated in a less favourable manner. However, this 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 fulltime employee. Where employers try to justify less favourable treatment on objective grounds, they have to show that the difference in treatment is based on grounds other than the part-time status of the employee.
Part-time employees cannot be victimised for invoking their rights under the Act.
Part-time casual employees may be treated less favourably if such a difference in treatment can be objectively justified. Casual employees are those with fewer than 13 continuous weeks’ service who are not in regular or seasonal employment or are regarded as casually based by a collective agreement to that effect.
All female employees who have a contract of employment are now entitled to maternity leave (currently 26 weeks), regardless of the hours worked or length of service.
Holiday entitlements of part-time workers are calculated in a different way to those of full-time workers. Under the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 part-time workers are entitled to eight hours leave for every 100 hours worked, subject to a maximum of 4 working weeks (eight per cent of all hours worked, excluding lunch time).
Part-time workers who have not worked for their employer for at least 40 hours in total in the five weeks before a public holiday are not entitled to paid leave on the public holiday. Part-time workers who are entitled to paid leave on the public holiday but are due to work that day are entitled to an extra day’s pay, or a paid day off within a month of the public holiday, or an extra day’s annual leave, as the employer decides.
Those entitled to paid leave but not due to work on the public holiday are entitled to one fifth of their weekly pay instead of the actual day’s leave or pro rata time off/annual leave as mentioned above. Where the pay varies, an average day’s pay can be worked out by adding the number of hours worked over the previous thirteen weeks and dividing by the number of days worked.
Part-time workers are entitled to overtime if a comparable full-time employee is paid overtime after working their maximum hours per week. However, the employer can decide that part-time employees must work the same number of hours as a full-time employee before they can claim overtime. Employers in Ireland are not required by law to pay employees higher rates for work completed in overtime but SIPTU has negotiated time and a half or double time for overtime in most company agreements.