The Protection of Employees (Part-Time Work) Act Act has three main purposes which are:
• To prohibit discrimination against part-time workers
• To improve the quality of part-time work
• To facilitate the development of part-time work on a voluntary basis and to contribute to the flexible organisation of working time.
This Act has amended certain other Acts to apply rights and entitlements on a pro-rata basis to part-time employees.
The threshold which required that a part-time worker should be in the continuous service of the employer for not less than 13 weeks and should be normally expected to work not less than 8 hours for that employer, no longer applies. Part-time employee means an employee whose normal hours of work are less than the normal hours of work of a comparable employee in relation to him/her.
The Act provides that a part-time employee shall not be treated in a less favourable manner in respect of his/her conditions of employment than a full time employee. However, the Act provides that 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. A ground would be considered as an objective ground for treatment in a less favourable manner, if it is based on considerations other than the status of the employee as a part- time worker the less favourable treatment is for the purpose of achieving a legitimate objective of the employer and such treatment is necessary for that purpose.
The Act provides that a provision in any agreement shall be void insofar as it attempts to exclude or limit the application of any provision of the Act or is inconsistent with any provision of the Act.
Referral of Complaint
An employee may present a complaint to the Rights Commissioner if it appears that the employer has failed to provide an entitlement to which the employee is due under the Act.
Written notice of the complaint must be presented within six months of the date of the alleged contravention.
The time limit for submitting a complaint for redress may be extended by a further 12 months if the Right Commissioner is satisfied that the failure to present the complaint under the normal six month period was due to a reasonable cause.