Part-time working

Part-time working, defined as working less than the full-time hours for the post, is appropriate where:

  • there is insufficient work for the post to be carried out on a full-time basis
  • the nature of the work or working hours are best suited to part-time work
  • the job can be split sensibly and effectively between part-time job sharers, or
  • suitable full-time employees are not available

Heads of institutions (or other supervisors or managers) considering recruiting a part-time member of staff should:

  • carefully assess the viability and desirability of having the job done on a part-time basis and the likelihood of finding suitable part-time applicants
  • identify the hours to be worked, for example whether the job holder needs to attend every day or whether a reduced number of full-time days would be appropriate, and
  • assess the potential cost of employment

The usual formal approval mechanisms should be followed before filling the post.

Heads of institutions (or other supervisors or managers) considering a request to move to part-time working should consider:

  • whether it is necessary for someone to be present in the job during all the department's working hours
  • whether all the necessary work can be done within the hours requested
  • whether the job can be re-defined or restructured in order to make it easier for it to be performed on a part-time basis
  • whether some of the duties of the job can be separated and allocated to other employees
  • what the effects would be on other staff if the worker moved to part-time working and whether these effects would be acceptable
  • whether it would be possible for the job to be performed on a job-share basis
  • whether the worker who is requesting a move to part-time working could be moved to a different job at a similar level so as to accommodate the request to work part-time (if the worker's existing job is found not to be suitable for part-time working)
  • what the cost would be to recruit and train a new worker if the existing worker were to leave the organization on account of a refusal to agree to part-time working
  • what benefits would accrue to the department if part-time working arrangements were agreed

Formal approval should be sought before agreeing to the contractual change, which may be on a permanent basis or mutually agreed for a limited period of up to five years. The Human Resources Division can provide advice on implementing part-time arrangements.

If it is unclear whether a part-time arrangement would be a workable option, the Head of institution may agree to a trial period, which should usually be for not longer than three months, during which the post will be carried out under the proposed part-time arrangements (see paragraph 3.13 above).

Part-time workers are protected by the Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 (effective 1 July 2000), which makes it unlawful for employers to treat part-timers less favourably than comparable full-timers in their terms and conditions of employment, unless different treatment can be objectively justified.