The Court of Appeal recently ruled that a part-time member of BA’s cabin crew was treated less favourably than her full-time equivalent by being paid only 50% of full-pay for working 53.5 % of her comparator’s hours.
In the recent case of British Airways v Pinaud a cabin crew purser brought an employment tribunal claim for less favourable treatment under the Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 (PTW). Ms Pinaud had to be available for 53.5% of the days of a full-time worker under her part-time contract, but received only 50% of the pay of a full-timer.
The tribunal held that she had been less favourably treated in respect of her pay and suggested that the discrimination could have been avoided by paying the part-time workers 53.5% of the full-time salary.
British Airways (BA) appealed to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT), which upheld that there had been less favourable treatment, but questioned whether the treatment was objectively justified or not. BA appealed again to the Court of Appeal.
Court of Appeal decision
The Court of Appeal agreed with the earlier decisions that paying part-time workers less than full-time workers for comparative work amounted to less favourable treatment. However, the court raised further questions about whether the treatment was justified and remitted this question to be considered by a new tribunal.
BA argued that its legitimate aim was to provide a workable 50% working pattern, something which could not be achieved exactly since the year was not precisely divisible.
There are over 600 claims against BA by part-time cabin crew which have been stayed pending the outcome of this case.
Even where there is less favourable treatment of a part-time worker, as in this case, an employer will not be acting unlawfully if it can show some objective justification for its actions. However, this is always very fact specific and is a high hurdle for an employer to get over in tribunal; some real evidence and/or statistical data needs to be presented rather than just ascertains made.
Regardless of the final outcome, this case is a good reminder for employers to ensure they are not treating part-timers less favourably for example, when it comes to pay, benefits and training opportunities.