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The Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) has held in Roddis v Sheffield Hallam University that a permanent, full-time lecturer was employed under the same type of contract as a part-time associate lecturer on a zero hours contract.

Mr Roddis was employed by the University on a zero-hours contract as a part-time associate lecturer. His contract stated that his hours of work would vary according to the workload of the University's business. There was no obligation on the part of the University to provide any work, and offers of work were made at least one month prior to the commencement of the relevant academic year or semester. Mr Roddis brought a claim under the Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 (the Regulations) for less favourable treatment and sought to compare himself to a permanent full-time lecturer.

At a preliminary hearing the tribunal concluded that, as the two individuals were not employed under the same type of contract as required by the Regulations, Mr Roddis had not identified a valid comparator. However, the EAT disagreed. It found that both Mr Roddis and his comparator were employed under contracts of employment (the comparator had what the tribunal called "permanent employment as an academic lecturer as opposed to an associate lecturer"), and that the tribunal had failed to look at the broad characteristics of the contracts.

Any differences were not relevant to the type of contract under which they were engaged by reference to the categories of worker set out in Reg 2(3). These categories are broadly defined to enable a comparison to be made between full and part-time workers. The EAT held that it could not be that a zero hours contract of itself constituted a different type of contract as the result would be that an employee on such a contract would never be able to compare themselves to a full-time worker.

Take note: Employers need to be aware that it may be possible, following Roddis, for an individual on a zero hours contract to compare themselves with a full-time colleague. If the only difference between the two contracts is the hours the individuals work, then the Regulations are likely to apply. This is another risk area for employers exploring and utilising flexible labour models or working in the "gig economy".

This article is taken from HR Law - July 2018.