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Part-time Workers

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Is it lawful for part-time workers not to receive paid breaks if the reason is that they are working shorter shifts?

Yes, held the EAT, on the facts in Forth Valley Health Board v Campbell.

The Claimant was a part-time Phlebotomist who worked 16 hours per week on a 6-week rota. It was the Respondent's practice that workers received a paid 15 minute break when they worked shifts of 6 hours or more. The Claimant did receive a paid break when working 6-hour weekend shifts but not when working 4-hour shifts during the week. He argued this was unlawful as full-time workers received a paid break for all shifts that they worked. The tribunal at first instance agreed with him finding that the Respondent's practice was less favourable to part-time workers who by definition worked less hours.

The EAT disagreed and dismissed his claim. The sole reason why the Claimant did not always receive paid breaks was not his part-time status and the tribunal had erred in applying a 'but for' test. The correct approach was to look at why the Claimant was treated less favourably. On the facts this was not 'because of' his part-time status but was instead due to the length of particular shifts that he worked. This was demonstrated by the fact that he did sometimes receive the paid break. It was, in fact, possible for part-time workers to always receive the paid break if they worked longer shifts.

Thanks to Mark Alaszewski of didlaw for preparing this case summary.