Paid breaks for part-time workers
In Forth Valley Health Board v Campbell, an employee had made a claim to the employment tribunal (ET) under Regulation 5 of the Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000.
Facts of the case
Mr Campbell worked for Forth Valley Health Board as a phlebotomist between April 2018 and July 2020. His hours were part-time and, in common with other full-time and part-time workers, he worked shifts.
For shifts of at least six hours, workers were entitled to a paid break of 15 minutes. Those who worked fewer than six hours were not entitled to a paid break.
Mr Campbell was contracted to work for an average of 16 hours per week on a six week rota. Within that rota, Mr Campbell and his colleagues worked shift patterns of different lengths. On weekdays, he worked four hour shifts without a break and on weekends, he worked a six hour shift, during which he would receive a paid break.
ET awards compensation
At the ET, Mr Campbell sought to compare himself with a full-time worker who did receive such breaks. The ET found that his claim of less favourable treatment had been established and he was awarded compensation.
Findings at the EAT
His employer appealed and the case was heard by an employment appeal tribunal (EAT).
The EAT found that the ET had erred in concluding that the difference in treatment between Mr Campbell and someone working full-time was due to Mr Campbell’s part-time status. It had been agreed at the ET that whether or not a shift included a break depended on the length of the particular shift.
Therefore, the conclusion was that the detrimental treatment of Mr Campbell was not ‘on the grounds’ that he was part-time in terms of the Regulations and the judgment of the ET was set aside.
The EAT concluded that it is lawful for part-time workers not to receive paid breaks if the reason is that they are working shorter shifts.
Although the findings in this case were that the employee had not suffered a detriment due to his part-time working hours, it is a useful reminder that all employers need to ensure that they are not treating part-time workers more unfavourably on the grounds of working part-time.
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