The Part-time Work (Prohibition of Unfavourable Treatment) Laws of 2002 to 2007, consist of the principal Law, which entered into force on 1 January 2003, the Amendment Law, No.1, which governs the powers and duties of Inspectors and came into operation on 16 February 2007 and the Amendment Law, No.2, which governs casual work and came into operation on 30 May 2007.

The purpose of the Laws is to eliminate discrimination against part-time workers, to improve the quality of part-time work and to facilitate the development of part-time work on a voluntary basis and to contribute to the flexible organization of the working time, in a manner that takes into account the employers’ and workers’ needs.

The Law applies to all part-time workers, excluding:

  • Part-time workers, who work on a casual basis (as specified below);
  • Full-time workers affected by partial unemployment, that is because of collective or temporary reduction of the normal hours of work for economic, technical or structural reasons.

‘Part-time worker’ means an employee, whose normal hours of work, calculated on a weekly basis, or on average over a period of employment of one year, are less than the normal hours of work of a comparable full-time worker in the same establishment.

‘Part-time casual worker’ means a part-time worker,

  • whose total duration of employment with the same employer does not exceed eight weeks per calendar year, subject to a maximum period of consecutive employment in each case not exceeding three weeks, or
  • whose total consecutive employment does not exceed five hours per week.

‘Comparable full-time worker’ means an employee who,

  • is employed in the same establishment as the part-time worker,
  • has the same type of employment contract or relationship as the part-time worker, and
  • performs the same or similar duties as the part-time worker, due regard being given to other considerations such as seniority, qualifications and skills.

Where there is no comparable full-time worker in the establishment, the comparison is made by reference to the collective agreement applicable in each case or, where there is no applicable collective agreement, in accordance with law, other collective agreements or practice.

The terms and conditions of employment of a part-time worker must not be less favourable than those for a comparable full-time worker, solely because he works part-time, unless different treatment is justified on objective grounds. Where appropriate the principle of pro rata temporis applies.

The principle of pro rata temporis means that, where a comparable full-time worker receives (or is entitled to receive) wages or any other benefit, the part-time worker must receive (or be entitled to receive) such part of the wages or other benefit as is the proportion of the number of his weekly hours of work to the number of the weekly hours of work of the comparable full-time worker.

Where this is justified on objective grounds, the Minister of Labour and Social Insurance and/or the social partners (employers’ and workers’ organizations) may, where appropriate, make access of part-time workers to particular conditions of employment subject to a period of past service, time worked or qualifications on the basis of which the worker’s earnings are determined. These access requirements to particular conditions of employment should be reviewed periodically, having regard to the principle of non-discrimination.

Every part-time worker is entitled to equivalent terms and conditions of employment and to equivalent treatment and enjoys the same protection as the one afforded to comparable full-time workers, particularly as regards:

  • Wages and benefits;
  • Protection under the social security system;
  • Maternity protection;
  • Paid annual leave and paid public holidays;
  • Parental leave;
  • Sick leave;
  • Termination of employment.

Moreover, every part-time worker, is entitled to the same treatment and enjoys the same protection as the treatment afforded to the full-time workers, as regards:

  • The right to organize, to collective bargaining and to represent workers;
  • Safety and health at work;
  • Protection against unfavourable discrimination in employment and occupation.

The employer must ensure that when vacant positions are available in the establishment, the transfer of employees from full-time work or vice versa, is done on a voluntary basis. A worker’s refusal to transfer from part-time work to full-time work or vice versa, does not in itself constitute a valid reason for termination of the worker’s employment (without prejudice to termination of employment in accordance with existing law, collective agreements and practice, for other reasons that may arise from the operational requirements of the establishment concerned).#

The employer must, to the extent possible, consider the following:

  • Requests of employees to transfer from full-time to part-time work or vice versa or to increase their working time, where this is possible.
  • Timely provision of information on the availability of part-time or full-time vacancies in the establishment.
  • Measures to facilitate access to part-time work at all levels of the enterprise, including skilled and managerial positions.
  • Measures to facilitate access of part-time workers to vocational training.
  • Provision of appropriate information to the organizations representing workers about part-time workers in the undertaking.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance may, following consultations with the social partners, identify, tackle and, where necessary, eliminate obstacles of a legal or administrative nature, which may limit the opportunities for part time work.

The social partners, acting through the procedures set out in collective agreements, should identify, tackle and, where necessary, eliminate obstacles of a legal or administrative nature, which may limit opportunities for part-time work.

The Law provides that, within three months from the date of its coming into operation, the Ministry of Labour and Social Insurance should ask the employers’ and employees’ organizations to review, within the time to be fixed by him, the existing collective agreements and to revise and/or adapt them, in a manner such as to eliminate any provisions, which limit the free choice and/or opportunities for part-time work.

The Minister of Labour and Social Insurance has appointed inspectors for better implementation of the Law. The Amendment Law (No.1) of 2007, lays down the powers and duties of Inspectors.

The Labour Disputes Court is the competent court for resolving any disputes (of a civil nature), arising out of the operation of the provisions of the Law. An employer who violates any provision of the Law, is guilty of an offence and is liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding €3.417.

The Council of Ministers may make regulations for the better carrying into effect of the provisions of the Law and/or regulating related matters. The regulations may in particular prescribe:

  • The categories of workers working on a casual basis; and
  • The powers and duties of inspectors or other officers appointed for the better carrying into effect of the Law.