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Part-time workers: hours -v- pay

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The Court of Appeal has agreed with the lower courts that a part-time cabin crew member had been treated less favourably than a full-time crew member, because she had to be available for work 53.5% of the year but was only paid 50% of the full-time salary (British Airways plc v Pinaud).

Ms Pinaud had to be available to work 130 days per year and a full-time comparator had to be available for 243 days per year. Despite having to be available for a greater proportion of the year (53.5%), she was paid 50% of a full time employee’s salary.

Less favourable treatment will not be unlawful if it can be objectively justified. British Airways argued, with supporting statistics, that Ms Pinaud was not actually required to work more hours (proportionately) than a full-time employee so the impact of the less favourable treatment was minimal.

The Court of Appeal found that there was, on the face of it, less favourable treatment in the contractual arrangements, and sent the case back to a different tribunal to look at objective justification. It expressed scepticism about BA’s argument on justification but also commented that if BA’s statistical evidence was accepted, it would be surprising if a tribunal found that Ms Pinaud’s loss was as much as 3.5% of her total remuneration over the ten-year period in question (which would have been £50,000 in total).

With the current boom in flexible working arrangements and an increasing number of employees working part-time employers need to consider carefully the pay and benefits offered to, and hours worked by, part-time employees in comparison to their full-time equivalents. If there is a difference, make sure there is a good, documented reason for it and that your records support your reasoning.