05 Dec 2021

Managing part time employees - all you need to know

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Managing part time employees - all you need to know

Mary McDonagh of Ifac gives the low down on managing part time employees, their entitlements, and the employers entitlements.

Many businesses rely on part time workers, writes Mary McDonagh (pictured above)  of Ifac.

Employment law specifies that these employees cannot be treated less favourably than comparable full-time workers so it is important to calculate their benefits correctly.

What is a part-time worker?
A part-time employee is defined as someone who works fewer hours than a comparable full-time employee carrying out the same type of work in the same business. There are no minimum hours which someone must work to be considered full or part-time.

How to calculate a part-timers annual leave
Depending on the number of hours worked, a part-time employee’s annual leave entitlement is one of the following:
*Four working weeks in a leave year in which the employee works at least 1,365 hours (unless it is a leave year in which they change employment)
*1/3 of a working week per calendar month provided the employee worked at least 117 hours
*8% of the hours worked in a leave year (subject to a maximum of 4 working weeks)
Your HR Services Provider will be able to tell you how much annual leave your part-time employee has accrued.

Public holidays
If your part-time employee has worked at least 40 hours in the five weeks prior to a public holiday they are entitled to a day’s pay provided the public holiday falls on a day they normally work. If they do not usually work on the day in question, they are entitled to one-fifth of their weekly pay. A part-time worker who is required to work on a public holiday is entitled to an additional day’s pay.

Unless they work less than 20% of the normal hours of a comparable full-time employee, part-time workers are entitled to the same pension benefits as their full-time peers. This is because the Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act 2001 protects the rights of part-time employees in respect of pension and benefits.
While a part-time employee who works less than 20% of normal full-time hours does not have an automatic entitlement to access pension benefits, there is nothing to stop an employer from allowing them to access the same benefits as a comparable full-time worker.

The employee’s Contract of Employment should set out how overtime will be dealt with. Employers are not obliged to pay overtime and do not have to pay a higher rate per hour than an employee’s standard hourly rate. Where an employer pays overtime to full time workers, they should apply the same rule to part-time workers however some employers require part-time employees to work the same number of hours as comparable full-time workers before becoming entitled to overtime pay.
Penalising part-time workers

It is important that employers avoid penalising their part-time workers. Examples of penalising include:
*Treating a part-time employee less favourably than a comparable full-time employee about conditions of employment
*Treating an employee differently for refusing to agree to a request to change from full-time work to part-time work (or the reverse)
*Treating an employee less favourably for opposing an act deemed unlawful under the Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act, as long as in doing so, they did not breach the Act themselves.
*Treating an employee less favourably for giving evidence or giving notice of their intention to give evidence under the Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act.
An employee who believes they have been penalised can make a complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission. Almost half (48%) of WRC inspections in the agriculture sector since 2015 have uncovered employment law breaches.

While employing part-time workers can reduce the workload of other employees and/or increase business capacity, it is very important to understand their rights and entitlements. Further infor contact ifac’s HR & Payroll Services Team.

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