Labour Research May 2002

Law Matters

Government to extend part timers' rights

The government has announced that it will change the rules which determine how part timers claim equal rights to full-time workers.

Since 2000 part-time workers have had the right to "no less favourable treatment" than full-time workers. However, the law only allowed them to compare themselves with full-time workers on the same type of contract. This meant that part-time temporary workers could only compare themselves with full-time temporary workers while part-time permanent workers could only compare their terms and conditions with those of full-time permanent workers.

The government has said that it will change the law to allow part timers to compare themselves with full-time workers regardless of whether or not they are employed under the same type of contract. The change is needed to ensure that the part-time workers regulations do not conflict with the new rights which temporary workers will have once the new law which will give them the right to no less favourable treatment is in force in July 2002.

* At the same time the government has accepted that the two-year limit on backpay in equal pay cases is contrary to European law. Following the successful Preston case taken on behalf of around 60,000 part-time workers who had been denied access to occupational pension rights, the government has agreed that the two-year limit should go.