Part-time Workers and Flexible Working

Any worker who works fewer than 35 hrs per week is considered to be a part-time worker for the purposes of the legislation.  All such workers are fully protected from being discriminated against when compared to a full time colleague.  This means that the same opportunities and terms and conditions, albeit it on a pro rata basis, should be provided to all part-time workers.  An example of less favourable treatment could be the provision of health insurance to full time Employees but not allowing access to a scheme for part-time workers.   In those circumstances if the Employer can justify the decision to exclude an individual e.g. on the basis of the costs versus the benefit being disproportionate, then this may not amount to discrimination.

Flexible Working

Employees who meet necessary criteria have a legal right to request flexible working arrangements from their Employers.  Meeting the criteria does not automatically present a legal right to work flexibly – the Employer does have the opportunity to consider your request for flexible working and give adequate reasons in the event of refusing such an application.   If the refusal is unjustified, then this could amount to indirect sex discrimination.   

There may be a number of reasons why you decide that you want to change your working hours or your working arrangements and this may include the prospect of transferring to part-time working, a change of location or indeed working from home.  The reasons behind your request may relate to childcare responsibilities or that you wish to pursue your hobbies or other interests.

Flexible working can include a variety of alternative working hours and patterns which are designed to suit the requirements of an Employee.  There are certain criteria that you must meet, namely:

  1. You must be an Employee
  2. You must have been employed with the same Employer for a period of 26 weeks or more
  3. You can only make 1 request in any 12 month period.

An application requesting flexible working must follow a particular format and this must be adhered to rigidly.   Once the Employer receives this request they must deal with it in a reasonable manner.   They must also respond within a prescribed period and if they decided to refuse your application they must give reasons.

In the event that you feel that your rights have been violated regarding flexible working, please do not hesitate to give us a call on 028 9039 7771.

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