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Part-time 29,000 to gain rights

Britain's 29,000 part-time teachers can expect improved employment rights now that the Government has agreed to adopt a European directive giving part-timers the same protection against unfair dismissal and redundancy as full-time workers, writes Frances Rafferty.

Michael Portillo, the Employment Secretary, who had argued against the new regulations, has now agreed that there will be new legislation on part-timers' rights in the new year.

Employment surveys show that the proportion of part-timers in teaching is increasing and Richard Margrave, spokesman for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said his union had more than 50 part-timers seeking representation after unfair treatment.

He said: "The Government has been dragging its feet in a disgraceful way. We welcome the changes but believe that part-time teachers should have the full range of provisions, for example holiday pay."

Earlier this year, a House of Lords judgment said that present rules breached equality laws because they discriminated against women, who make up more than 90 per cent of part-time workers.

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