Thu 30 Sep 2021

Should part-time employee be given a break on every shift if full time employees are?

Not when the reason is the length of the shift and not their part-time status.

In Forth Valley Health Board v Campbell the claimant alleged that he, as a part-time employee, was treated less favourably than his full time colleagues because they got a fifteen minute paid break during every shift they worked, but he did not. 

The employer had a practice of giving a fifteen minute paid break to employees who worked at least a six hour shift.  On the days the claimant worked six hours he received that break but on the days he worked four hour shifts he did not.  He claimed the failure to provide the paid break on every shift was unlawful discrimination.

The employment tribunal agreed with the claimant, rejecting the employer's argument that the reason for the treatment was the length of the shift and not the status as a part-time worker.  It went on to find that this discriminatory treatment could not be objectively justified.  The employer appealed.

The EAT upheld the appeal finding that the tribunal had been wrong to conclude that the difference in treatment between the claimant and his full-time comparator was "on the ground" of his part-time status.  It had been an agreed fact before the employment tribunal that whether a shift included a break depended on the length of the shift.  No finding had been made of any causal link between shift length and part-time status.  What is more, the fact that the claimant did receive the break on the days he worked a six hour shift further evidenced the part-time status was not the reason for the treatment complained of.  The difference in treatment could not be "on the ground" of the claimant's part-time status.

This case is a useful reminder that in order for a part-time worker's claim to be successful, the less favourable treatment must be because of the part-time status and not for any other reason. 

Make an Enquiry

From our offices we serve the whole of Scotland, as well as clients around the world with interests in Scotland. Please complete the form below, and a member of our team will be in touch shortly.

Morton Fraser MacRoberts LLP will use the information you provide to contact you about your inquiry. The information is confidential. For more information on our privacy practices please see our Privacy Notice