Rights as a part-time or agency worker

What Are My Rights As An Agency Worker Or Part-Time Worker?

Rights to equal treatment will apply to you if you are a ‘worker’ or an ’employee’, from the first day of your employment. It makes no difference if you are employed on a permanent contract or a fixed-term contract, you still have rights. At McPartland & Sons Solicitors, we have pulled together a guide on your rights as an agency or part-time worker.

Agency Workers

If you are an agency worker, it’s important to know your rights and the rules about the way employment agencies and employment businesses should treat you.

As an agency worker you will either have a contract for services or a contract of employment with the agency who finds you work. This work is often called ‘temporary work’, ‘temping’ or ‘agency work’.

There are several advantages to being an agency worker, you can:

  • Get experience in an area you want to work in
  • Use it as a way of entering or re-entering the job market
  • Use it to work more flexibly to help balance other responsibilities
  • Move jobs easily and with little or no notice

Flexibility for both worker and hiring company is one of the features of agency work. You may be able to leave at short notice, but at the same time the company you are working for also has the right to stop temporary work at short notice. Your contract will explain your notice period.

Part-Time Work

Working part-time can be a good way of balancing your work and your personal commitments. If you work part-time, you have the right to be treated fairly in comparison to your full-time colleagues. The reasons for working part-time vary from individual to individual. It may be that you want to have a different work-life balance, or you may have caring responsibilities.

Employment Rights of Part-time Workers

Part-time employees have the same statutory employment rights as full-time employees. There is no set number of hours to qualify for employment rights.

Examples of how the regulations work

The regulations often mean that benefits must be ‘pro-rata’, which means that they should be in proportion to your hours. Below are some examples of issues affected by the regulations. Remember that your employer can treat part-timers less favourably if this is ‘objectively justified‘. 

Rates of pay

Part-time workers must get at least the same hourly pay rate as a full-timer doing a similar job. 

Pension opportunities and benefits

Full-time and part-time workers should have equal access to pension schemes. 

Training and career development

Part-time workers should still be offered training and development opportunities, ideally training should take place on your “working days”.

Holidays and bank holidays

All workers have the right to a minimum amount of annual holiday, which is in proportion to what full-time workers get. It would be unfavourable if your employer was to round down the days you are entitled to, but they could ask you to take fractions of a day as hours off. 

Your employer can control when you take your holiday so they can make you take bank holidays from this entitlement when they coincide with your working days. Where your employer gives additional days off for bank and public holidays, the rights of part-timers may not always be clear.

If you work under a shift system where all full-time and part-time workers are equally likely to be scheduled to work on a bank holiday then it may be enough for your employer to give all part-time workers a paid day off. 

However, if you work fixed days each week, such a practice could put you at a disadvantage. For example, because most bank and public holidays fall on a Monday, those who do not work Mondays will be entitled to proportionately fewer days off. In cases like this, your employer could give all workers a pro-rata entitlement of days off in lieu according to the number of hours they work.

Sick pay, maternity, adoption and paternity leave and pay

Part-timers are entitled to sick pay, maternity, paternity and adoption leave and pay plus parental leave as full-time staff are. If companies give more than the statutory entitlement, part-timers must also get these contractual benefits.

Selection for promotion and transfer or redundancy

Being part-time can’t be used as a reason for selection for transfer, redundancy or refusing a promotion, unless it can be justified objectively.

If you have been treated less favourably

If you believe your employer has treated you less favourably than a full-time worker then you have the right to receive a written statement of reasons for the treatment. You should put your request in writing and your employer must return the written statement within 21 days.

If you are not satisfied that this treatment is objectively justified, then you can make a complaint to an Industrial Tribunal against your employer. If you are a member of a trade union, you can get help, advice and support from them. 

Our team of employment law experts can help you navigate these complicated issues. Please give us a call in our Lisburn and Lurgan offices