Part-time workers are employees who work fewer hours than full-time employees, which is less than the standard 160 hours per month.
Overtime for part-time employees refers to the additional working hours that exceed the agreed-upon contractual hours but do not reach a full-time workload. An example would be a half-time employee who works more overtime hours than specified in their contract but does not reach a full-time workload.
When are part-time workers entitled to overtime pay?
Part-time workers are entitled to overtime compensation if their employment contract includes such provisions.
This is stipulated in Art. 151 §5 of the poln. Labor Code, which states that the contracting parties should specify the number of overtime hours that entitle the employee to receive overtime pay. If the contract does not contain such a provision, according to the Supreme Court’s case law, overtime pay is due to part-time employees on the same terms as full-time employees. This means that part-time employees have the right to overtime pay only after exceeding the number of hours based on a full-time workload.
In practice, part-time employees must work the same number of hours as full-time employees to qualify for overtime pay.
Is the solution provided by the Labor Code fair?
On October 19, 2023, the Court of Justice of the European Union, in judgment C-660/20, ruled that such a principle is less favorable to part-time employees.
The Court of Justice of the European Union emphasized that overtime for part-time employees cannot be regulated unfairly compared to full-time employees. An example is avoiding excessive differences in hourly thresholds for overtime between these two groups of employees.
Establishing identical hourly thresholds for overtime pay for both full-time and part-time employees constitutes a violation of the principle of equal treatment. According to the Court, such regulations have unfavorable consequences for part-time employees because they must work significantly longer in relation to their working time to qualify for additional compensation for overtime, which is unfair and inconsistent with the rules regarding equal treatment of employees.
So what should employers do?
The employment contract is a key document that regulates overtime rules for part-time employees. The contract should specify working hours, the amount of working time, and the number of hours that qualify as overtime for each employee.
It is important to introduce different hourly thresholds for overtime pay for full-time and part-time employees to account for the fact that part-time employees work fewer hours than their full-time colleagues.
Following the ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union, Polish companies should carefully review their practices for compensating overtime and adjust them to comply with the applicable regulations regarding the equal treatment of employees to avoid potential legal consequences associated with unequal treatment of employees with different working time.
Another proof of the importance of adhering to the principle of equality
Let us note that this judgment once again underscores the need to respect the principle of equality and ensure fair treatment of employees, regardless of their employment status. These issues have become particularly important in today’s world and are the subject of numerous discussions and legal decisions.
The significance of the principle of equal treatment and the benefits for businesses that comply with it will be discussed at an upcoming conference organized by our law firm, titled “Mobbing, discrimination, and work-life balance – 3 challenges for organizations in practice.”
I cordially invite you to join us on November 23, 2023, online!
The detailed program of the event and organizational information are available on the dedicated conference website.
Paula Staszak-Urbańska, LL.M., Trainee attorney-at-law (PL)