50% means 50%
The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has reached what sounds like a sensible decision in relation to a part time contract for a British Airways (BA) employee.
The case involved a Purser at BA who went onto a part time contract when she returned from maternity leave in 2005. The employee took voluntary redundancy in 2015 which presumably led to a closer inspection of her terms of employment.
The employee was described as being on a ‘50% contract’ as she worked half time and she was paid as such. However when the figures were calculated, it was shown that she was required to perform 3.5% more work days than a full time employee, despite the fact that she only received 50% of the salary. The employee argued that this was less favourable treatment under the Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000.
BA argued in its defence that the slight difference was proportionate and that the effect on the employee was ‘minimal’. They pointed out that the year was not exactly divisible. The Employment Tribunal found in favour of the employee. BA lost its appeal to the EAT on this point. The EAT found that the employee had suffered unfavourable treatment.
The EAT made the following, seemingly common sense observation stating that they “found it difficult to see why, if the part time worker had to be available for a greater number of days, this should not work itself through into a significant impact for the employee”
The case was sent back to the Employment Tribunal for an assessment of the practical impact of the decision to be made.
It may be that this is not the end of the story. But it is a useful reminder for employers employing people on part time contracts that might involve complex shift patterns to be satisfied that their part time employees do not suffer unfavourable treatment as a result.