The case of Barna Recycling v Carmel Leydon serves as a cautionary reminder to businesses to be careful when restructuring roles within their company to avoid falling foul of the Protection of Employees (Part Time Work) Act 2001. Under the legislation, part time workers must not be treated less favourably than their full-time colleagues.
In this case, the company sought to replace four part-time credit controllers with two full-time credit controllers based on customer and staff feedback. The part-time employees refused to move to the full-time roles and they were subsequently made redundant by the company.
Section 15 of the Protection of Employees (Part Time Work) Act 2001 states that an employer shall not penalise an employee if they refuse a request from the business to either move from full time to part time hours or part time hours to full time hours.
In awarding €26,000 to the claimant, the Court held “…there was no objective justification for [the] decision and indeed no real thought went into it until the objections were raised.”
From the above, it is clear that an employer who wishes to change a current role within the business from part time to full time should have a clear, objective rationale as to why this is required. The reason for the change should be backed up by written evidence so that the employer can support and defend their decision.
In this case, the Labour Court rejected “customer and staff feedback” as being a legitimate reason for the restructure of the roles. As with any potential redundancy situation, it is vital that a company can show that they considered all reasonable alternatives and consulted with the employee(s) before proceeding with any organisational restructuring.
The SFA have a guideline on part time working which sets out the requirements for employers under the above legislation and you can avail of our resources on redundancy here.
For further information restructuring and redundancy or if you have any other HR issues, please contact Helen Quinn on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01 605 1668.