Part-time workers: zero-hours lecturer could compare himself to full-time permanent lecturer
An employee employed on a zero-hours contract as a part-time associate lecturer was entitled to compare himself with a permanent full-time lecturer as they were both employed on the same type of contract.
Under the Part-time Workers Regulations 2000, a part-time worker alleging that they have been treated less favourably than a full-time worker must compare their treatment with that of another worker employed on the same type of contract.
Regulation 2(3) sets out four types of workers that are regarded as being employed on different types of contract:
- Employees employed under a contract that is not a contract of apprenticeship
- Employees employed under a contract of apprenticeship
- Workers who are not employees
- Any other description of worker that it is reasonable for the employer to treat differently on the ground that they have a different type of contract.
In Roddis v Sheffield Hallam University, Mr Roddis was employed as a part-time associate lecturer on a zero-hours contract. He brought a claim under the Part-time Workers Regulations seeking to compare himself to a permanent full-time lecturer. At a preliminary hearing, the tribunal ruled that Mr Roddis was an employee employed under a zero hours contract and he could not compare himself with the permanent full-time lecturer as they were not employed on the same type of contract.
Mr Roddis appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).
The EAT overturned the employment tribunal’s decision. Having found that both Mr Roddis and his comparator were employed under contracts of employment, it followed that they were employed under the same type contract. A zero-hours contract does not of itself constitute a different type of contract as that would result in a zero-hours employee never being able to compare himself with a full-time worker.
The case was remitted to the employment tribunal to determine whether Mr Roddis and his comparator were engaged in the same or broadly similar work and whether any less favourable treatment was objectively justified.
Zero hours employees can compare their treatment with that of full-time permanent employees when bringing a claim under the Part time Workers Regulations. The different terms of the contract are not a basis for finding that the contracts are of a different type.
Employers should ensure that they do not treat employees employed on zero-hours contracts less favourably than full-time employees where their work is broadly similar, unless this treatment can be objectively justified.
The articles published on this website, current at the date of publication, are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your own circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.