Is a Requirement to Work Full Time Discriminatory?
6 April 2016
Employers may wish to stipulate that a certain job role must be performed on a full time basis. However, this stance brings inherent risk. It is generally acknowledged that a requirement to work full-time rather than part-time is capable of amounting to indirect sex discrimination. This is because, on the whole, women tend to have more child caring responsibilities and this can make full time work difficult.
Requirements of this nature can only be deemed non-discriminatory if they are a ‘proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim’. This sounds technical, but what it means in practice is that the action must strike an objective balance between the discriminatory effects of the provision and the reasonable needs of the employer. Therefore, if a company is considering making a job an exclusively full time role, they must carefully consider whether they are able to justify their position.
Considering whether there are any less discriminatory means of achieving the required goal is essential. For instance, if splitting the full time position into two part time roles is viable, then to insist upon a full time employee is a highly risky course of action. Each case will be seen on its own merits and would be judged by a tribunal on its particular facts.
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