Part-time working rights

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Rights and conditions
02 November 2016
According to the Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000, workers on part-time contracts have the right not to be treated less favourably than their full-time colleagues by an employer unless this can be objectively justified.

This means that part-time employees should enjoy broadly the same rights, pay terms and working conditions, and protection from unfair dismissal and redundancy as full-time workers.


Pay is calculated differently depending on the sector in which you work.

You are a teacher in the maintained sector - under the system brought in September 2008, your salary is calculated with reference to the school's timetabled teaching week. This is the time that pupils could be expected to be in lessons, excluding registration, breaks and assemblies. The proportion of the STTW you are required to attend will determine the proportion of the full-time salary you receive.

You are a teacher in an academy - if you were TUPE transferred from a maintained school to an academy then you should be paid as above. However, if you were not TUPE transferred you should receive salary in accordance with the academy's pay policy on a pro-rata basis.

You are an independent teacher - the principle that should apply is that you should receive salary calculated on a pro rata basis.

You are a member of support staff - your salary should be calculated by dividing your contractual hours by the full-time equivalent working week, generally 37 hours for state sector staff employed in local authority schools (36 in Northern Ireland and London). Further deductions are made for support staff employed on term-time-only contracts.

You are a further education lecturer - part-time FE staff are often employed on an hourly-paid basis. Your employer should inform you of the method of calculation of the hourly-rate, and what the hourly rate represents. The hourly rate often includes an element to pay for marking and preparation and should be equivalent to the rate paid to a comparable full-time employee.

Sickness pay

The Burgundy Book sick pay scheme gives all teachers during their fourth or subsequent year of service 100 working days on full pay, followed by 100 working days on half pay. This contractual entitlement also applies to part-time workers.

A part-time employee on a 0.4 contract would therefore receive their normal 0.4 salary for 40 working days, followed by half their salary for a further 40 working days.

A similar principle applies to support staff employed under the Green Book, although here entitlement is calculated in months rather than working days and on a rolling year basis.


Teachers and lecturers employed in pensionable part-time service are entitled to the same Teachers' Pension Scheme (TPS) benefits as their full-time colleagues. Since 1 January 2007 all new part-time teachers were automatically entered into the TPS - only those who opt out or who were not members prior to 1 Jan 2007 are not in the scheme.

Around 30 per cent of independent sector teachers are not members of the TPS; you should always check the implications of working part-time on your pension with your pension service provider.

If you work in the state sector as a part-time member of the teaching support staff, you will automatically be a member of the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS). The Northern Ireland equivalent to the LGPS is the Northern Ireland Local Government Officers' Superannuation Committee.

For detailed information about pensions and part-time working, see the Part-time and supply teaching and part-time lecturing factsheet.

Training, staff meetings and INSET days

Under the regulations, your employer cannot deny you access to training that is being offered to your full-time colleagues without objective justification.

Part-time teachers cannot be required to attend any training or meeting that falls on a day they are not usually expected to work. If staff agree to attend they must be paid for doing so.

Working in independent schools

Part-time workers in independent schools are often employed on variable hours contracts, which enable the employer to unilaterally change the employee's contractual hours and therefore pay.

An employer using such a contract for part-time staff but not full-time staff is treating its part-time workers less favourably. ATL believes employers would struggle to provide the justification required by Part-time Workers Regulations 2000 and is working to address the issue with other independent sector unions.

Working in further education colleges

ATL has made a national agreement on the employment of part-time workers with FE colleges. However, it is important to check whether your college has adopted it.

A separate agreement applies to colleges in Wales. The national agreement does not apply to Scotland.

These agreements recommend the use of part-time contracts where pay and conditions of service are expressed as a fraction of a comparable full-time contract; part-time employees on such contracts should carefully check their terms and conditions to make sure this arrangement is accurately reflected.

What to do if you are being treated unfairly

Under the regulations, you can make a written request for a statement in writing from your employer detailing the reasons for the less favourable treatment you believe you have received. This can be submitted as evidence if you decide to pursue a claim at an employment tribunal.

Members should seek guidance from their ATL rep, branch secretary or from the ATL itself, ideally before submitting the written request.

See also