Part-Time Workers

Part-Time Workers have legal protections in place with respect to their employment arising from the Part-Time Workers Act 2001.

This post will give you information about the protections from penalisation in a work context and the dispute resolutions mechanism being the Workplace Relations Commission.
If you would like further information on the Workplace Relations Commission there is a post on our website about same.

If you have a workplace dispute and wish to obtain a legal opinion on the matter, we can help.

part time worker employment law

Is there a legal protection in place for part-time workers who are treated unfairly or discriminated against ?.


The Part-Time Workers Act 2001(as amended) provides legal protection rights for part-time workers.

S. 9 of the Part-Time Workers Act 2001 states:

A part-time employee shall not, in respect of his or her conditions of employment, be treated in a less favourable manner than a comparable full-time employee.

If it transpires an employee is treated in a less favourable manner to that of a full-time employee, then an employer must be able to justify it on objective grounds.

If it transpires an employee is treated in a less favourable manner to that of a full-time employee, then an employer must be able to justify it on objective grounds.

Examples – If a full-time employee receives overtime payment, then the part-time employee for the same employer is entitled to the same condition.

If an employer does treat a part-time employee less favourably than a full-time employer, then the employer must have a legitimate objective for this which is not dependent on the part-time status of the employee.

Conditions of employment can terms and conditions of the employment contract, but also arise from the legislation, such as, remuneration, pension, VHI, entitlement to sick pay etc.

Protection from Penalisation

S.15 of the Part-Time Workers Act 2001 states that an employer cannot penalise an employee in different scenarios.

It states that an employer shall not penalise an employee—

a) for invoking any right of the employee to be treated, in respect of the employee’s conditions of employment, in the manner provided for by this Part, or

b) for having in good faith opposed by lawful means an act which is unlawful under this Act, or

c) for refusing to accede to a request by the employer to transfer from performing—

(i) full-time work to performing part-time work, or

(ii) part-time work to performing full-time work,


d) for giving evidence in any proceedings under this Act or giving notice of his or her intention to do so or to do any other thing referred to in paragraph (a), (b) or (c).

(2) For the purposes of this section, an employee is penalised if he or she—

a) is dismissed, suffers any unfavourable change in his or her conditions of employment or any unfair treatment (including selection for redundancy), or

b) is the subject of any other action prejudicial to his or her employment.

There are exceptions not listed here.

Complaints to the Workplace Relations Commission

If an employee is treated unfairly by reason of their part-time employment status, and they wish to take a case, an adjudication officer under S.41 of the Workplace Relations Commission can direct one of the following occurs:

(a) declare that the complaint was or, as the case may be, was not well founded,

(b) require the employer to comply with the relevant provision,

(c) require the employer to pay to the employee compensation of such amount (if any) as the adjudication officer considers just and equitable having regard to all of the circumstances, but not exceeding 2 years remuneration in respect of the employee’s employment.


Please be advised that the above-mentioned material is intended as an overview and as a broad out-line of the topic discussed. It should not be considered as complete and comprehensive legal advice, nor act as an appropriate substitute. Legal advice should be sought from a solicitor prior to relying on anything in this article.

Due care has been taken in the publication of this article and we do not accept legal liability as a result of reliance on any material covered in the above article.


Employment Law Articles

Roger Cleary

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