At Taylor Solicitors Cork, one of the questions we are continually asked is whether employers are required to oblige full-time employees who want to switch to part-time hours. The simple answer to this, is no, there is no automatic entitlement to part-time hours. Any move from full-time to part-time work requires agreement from the employer.
However, at both an Irish and EU level the importance of increasing access to part-time work and indeed greater flexibility in the workplace has been recognised. It just makes good business sense. Employees are people… people with lives, families and lots other commitments. Getting the best out of employees requires flexibility which can lead to happier and more productive staff.
As I said, the importance of access to part-time work has been recognised at a political level. In 2006 we saw the introduction of the Code of Practice on Access to Part-Time Working (pdf) . Although not binding on employers, this Code advocates that it is best practice for employers is to have policies on improving access to part-time work and employers should aim to maximise the range of positions available for part-time work.
If you make a request for part-time work, your employer should have a procedure for dealing with your application which allows for consultation and discussion before making any decision. Your request should be taken seriously and consideration should be given to your personal circumstances, how part-time work would affect the business and the general staffing needs of the organisation. You are entitled to have your request considered and reviewed on a non-discriminatory basis.
As I said, there is no right to work part-time hours and your employer can refuse your request but they should have good grounds for the refusal and you should be given reasons for why your request has been refused.
In our experience, many employers appreciate that all employees have different needs and obligations on their time. They recognise the benefits of introducing flexibility in the workplace and working with staff to come up with solutions.
But like everything in life, you don’t ask, you don’t get. So if reduced hours or greater flexibility is what you need at work, ask. Think before you speak, put together your proposal and make your case.
Taylor Solicitors Cork www.taylorsolicitors.ie
National Employment Rights Authority: http://www.employmentrights.ie
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Taylor Solicitors is a Cork-based legal firm led by Eleanora Taylor offering specialist advice in business and property law.