The Act provides a right of complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission where an employee believes that a contravention of the Act has occurred.
Casual employees can be treated less favourably. The following circumstances may define an employee as being casual:
- The employee has been working for less than 13 weeks; and
- The period of service and any previous period of service could not be reasonably considered to constitute regular or seasonal employment;
The employee fulfils conditions for casual employment specified in a collective agreement that has been approved by the Labour Court
A comparable employee is a full-time employee to whom a part-time employee compares himself/herself where the following conditions are met:
- where the comparable employee and the part-time employee are employed by the same or associated employer and one of the following conditions is met:
- both employees perform the same work under the same or similar conditions or each is interchangeable with the other in relation to the work
- the work performed by one of the employees concerned is of the same or a similar nature to that performed by the other
- the work performed by the part-time employee is equal or greater in value to the work performed by the other employee concerned, having regard to such matters as skill, physical or mental requirements, responsibility and working conditions
- the full-time employee is employed in the same industry or sector of employment as the part-time employee and one of the conditions referred to above is met
the full-time employee is specified in a collective agreement to be a comparable employee in relation to the part-time employee
Can a part-time employee be treated in a less favourable manner than a comparable full-time employee?
A part-time employee may be treated in a less favourable manner than a comparable full-time employee where such treatment can be justified on objective grounds. An objective ground means a reason which is based on something other than the status of the employee as a part-time employee. The less favourable treatment must also be for the purpose of achieving a legitimate objective of the employer and such treatment is necessary for that purpose
A part-time employee can be treated less favourably than a comparable full-time employee in relation to any pension scheme or arrangement when his/her normal hours of work constitutes less than 20 per cent of the normal hours of work of the comparable full-time employee.
The part-time employee cannot be treated less favourably in their terms and conditions of employment than a comparable full-time employee but pay, pension etc. should be paid pro rata. Also, all employee protection legislation applies to part-time employees in the same manner as it already applies to full-time employees.
The Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act, 2001 covers all part-time employees where a part-time employee is an employee whose normal working hours are less than those of a comparable full-time employee (e.g. the part-time employee works 15 hours per week whereas the full working week is 39 hours)
In general, the Act applies to any part-time employee:
- working under a contract of employment or apprenticeship
- employed through an employment agency
- holding office under, or in the service of, the State
- In the case of agency workers, the party who is liable to pay the wages (employment agency or client company) will, normally, be deemed to be the employer for the purposes of the Act