date: February 28 2000
embargo: 00:01 hours Thursday March 2
Attention: industrial, women's', political correspondents
government lets down part timers and could face legal challenge
The Government is set to introduce European law on part time workers in such a minimalist way that only 1 in every 150 part time workers might benefit (45,000 out of Britain's 6.8 million part timers) according to the government's own regulatory assessment.
The TUC believes the draft regulations, if unchanged, would not meet European legal requirements and leave the government open to legal challenge of the kind already brought by the TUC on parental leave regulations.
The main problems with the regulations are:
· They only cover employees (ie those with a contract of employment) rather than all workers - the term used in the European Directive.
· Part timers will only be allowed to compare their jobs with a full timer doing the same job for the same employer. This means that millions of part time workers doing jobs only done by part timers such as catering and cleaning will not benefit.
· The regulations have been drafted using different legal terms and concepts than existing UK law such as the Sex Discrimination Act and Equal Pay Act. This will make legal cases more complex and expensive, as lawyers will advise aggrieved part timers to challenge on both part time and sex discrimination grounds.
· Part of the Directive - such as protection against dismissal - have simply been left out.
TUC General Secretary, John Monks, said: "These draft regulations are perhaps the weakest and most disappointing produced by this government. Clearly the order has gone out to make them as weak as possible, and in practice they will make no difference to the vast majority of part timers.
"What's worse is the government then boasts about how ineffective they will be in its own regulatory assessment - just 1 in every 150 part-timers. It clearly shows that they are not on the side of the low paid women workers who stand to gain from an effective implementation of the directive, but would rather listen to the anti-red tape brigade.
"The government says it wants to make Europe more popular. One way to start might be to let people at work in Britain get the full benefits from membership of the European Union, not just those bits approved of by business lobbyists."
Notes to Editors:
All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk
A series of TUC rights leaflets are available on the know your rights line 0870 600 4 882. Lines are open every day from 8am-10pm. Calls are charged at the national rate.
A copy of the submission to government is available from the TUC.
Media enquiries: Liz Chinchen on 020 7467 1248 or 076 99 744115 (pager)
part time regulations
Want to hear about our latest news and blogs?
Sign up now to get it straight to your inbox
To access the admin area, you will need to setup two-factor authentication (TFA).