Route to full rights more direct than before

30th January 1998 at 00:00
While ministers hint at changes to teachers' employment contracts Jane MacFarlane looks at recent legal developments

Quite often part-time contracts overlap with either temporary or flexible hours contracts. Part-time employees have played an important role in all types of educational establishment for many years, and while this will continue, the pattern and method by which the flexibility is achieved is set to change.

Until 1995 an employee had to work more than 16 hours per week for a period of two years in order to gain the statutory employment rights. A landmark decision in the House of Lords in 1994 involving the Equal Opportunities Commission effectively abolished the different qualifying periods based on the number of hours worked per week. The Law Lords decided that such differences were incompatible with the Treaty of Rome and European Community equal pay and equal treatment directives, due to the fact that the majority of employees who work for less than 16 hours per week are female. Thus any part-time worker who has more than two years' continuous service gains all the employment rights enjoyed by full-time workers.

In addition it has been suggested that an employer's refusal to allow a woman returner to work part-time is indirect sexual discrimination. While there have been several publicised cases over the past year or so none of these has given rise to an authoritative judgment that clarifies the law. The majority of claims have been backed by the Equal Opportunities Commission and have been settled out of court. However it is already clear that an employer must consider all such requests with an open mind and must objectively justify any refusal based on business need. They must also show that these needs outweigh the fact that the individual cannot comply with the full-time work pattern.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now