Request for Part-Time Working – What Employers Need to Know

In Ireland, under the Code of Practice on Access to Part-Time Work, 2006, prepared by the Labour Relations Commission, it is now considered best practice for employers to ensure they have a policy in place to improve access to part-time work for their employees.

The aim of this code is to encourage both employers and employees to consider part-time working as a viable option and to improve access to part-time work for employees. This includes both being receptive to full-time employees’ requests for part-time work, and the creation of part-time roles for application.

Employees do not enjoy a statutory right to have their hours reduced from full-time to part-time. It is a matter for negotiation between employer and employee based on the circumstances prevailing at the time.

However, the Code of Practice aims to encourage the parties to have these conversations and to be open to the concept. Under the European Union (Parental Leave) Regulations 2013, parents returning from maternity leave are entitled to request part-time work and are entitled to have that request genuinely considered.

Employers should put in place a procedure for employees to follow should they wish to make a request for part-time work. This policy should be included in the Employee Handbook and accessible to all employees.

If an employee wishes to reduce their working hours from full-time to part-time, they should be encouraged to make a formal application in writing.

When a request for part-time working is received, the employer should invite the employee to attend a meeting to discuss the application. The employee should be permitted to be accompanied by a co-worker at that meeting. The employer should listen carefully to the employee’s application and the meeting should be minuted.

When considering a request for part-time working, the employer ought to give serious and genuine consideration to the request within the context of their business at the time of the request.

Factors that employers should take into consideration when addressing such a request include:

  • The employee’s personal or family needs (such as children or adult dependents);
  • The number of part-time employees currently working in the organisation;
  • The staffing needs of the organisation at the time of the request;
  • The practical economic, technical and organisational implications for the employer if such a request was granted; and
  • The contents of the Employer’s equal opportunities policy.

When making a decision, the employer must ensure they do not discriminate against the employee in any way.

Where the request is to be granted, the employee should be informed of the outcome in writing. The employee must be provided with the proposed new terms and conditions of employment for their part-time role in writing and given time to consider same. Where the new terms are agreed, the employee will make the transition to a part-time employee.

Where the request is to be refused, the employer must ensure they have genuine and good reasons for rejecting the application. These should be provided to the employee in writing. The employee should be given the right to appeal against the decision reached.

At appeal stage, the employee’s grounds for appeal should be considered genuinely. When the outcome if given, the employee ought to be informed that this decision is final.

If you have any queries regarding part-time working requests please contact the advice line on 01 886 0350.

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