Employment Law Cases

'Same type of contract' for part-time worker comparison

Roddis v Sheffield Hallam University

A permanent, full-time employee was employed under the ‘same type of contract’ as a part-time employee on a zero-hours contract for the purposes of the Part-time Workers Regulations.

The Part-time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 (PTWR) make it unlawful for an employer to treat part-time workers less favourably than their full-time colleagues regarding their terms and conditions, unless the treatment can be objectively justified. One of the preconditions to bringing a claim under the PTWR is that the part-time worker must be employed on the ‘same type of contract’ as their full-time comparator (reg. 2(4)).


Mr Roddis worked for the university on a zero-hours contract as a part-time lecturer. He brought a claim under the PTWR seeking to compare himself with a permanent, full-time lecturer. At a preliminary hearing, a tribunal struck out his claim because he’d failed to identify a valid comparator – on the basis that the two of them weren’t employed under the ‘same type of contract’ because Mr Roddis worked under a zero-hours contract. The tribunal found Mr Roddis to be an employee employed under a contract of employment, just as was his comparator, the difference between them being that the comparator had what the tribunal called ‘permanent employment as an academic lecturer as opposed to an associate lecturer’. Mr Roddis appealed.

EAT decision

The EAT allowed the appeal and substituted a finding that Mr Roddis and his comparator were employed under the ‘same type of contract’.

In deciding whether a part-time worker is employed under the ‘same type of contract’ as a full-time comparator, the comprehensive, mutually exclusive, list of categories of different types of contract set out in PTWR, reg. 2(3) must be considered. The four such categories in reg. 2(3) are:

  • employees employed under a contract that is not a contract of apprenticeship
  • employees employed under a contract of apprenticeship
  • workers who are not employees, and
  • any other description of worker that it is reasonable for the employer to treat differently from other workers on the ground that the workers of that description have a different type of contract

The EAT concluded that the tribunal made a mistake by failing to look at the broad characteristics of both contracts and identifying that they were both contracts of employment. Both were permanent in the sense that both employees had the protection of notice periods and had acquired statutory protection from unfair dismissal as a result of their length of service and such differences as there were, were not relevant to the question of the ‘type of contract’ by reference to the categories in reg. 2(3).

These categories are broadly defined in a way that allows for a wide variety of terms and conditions within each category, and the threshold is not set too high. If a worker and his or her comparator are both employed under contracts in the same category in reg. 2(3), they are both to be regarded as employed under the same type of contract for the purposes of reg. 2(4). The EAT stated that an example of a description of a worker who would fall into the last, residual category has yet to be identified – but zero-hours contracts weren’t one of them.

Link to judgment: http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKEAT/2018/0299_17_2603.html


It’s nearly two decades since the PTW regulations hit the statute book – and still they generate case law on fairly basic aspects of the protections they afford, albeit this one’s more newsworthy due to the zero hours angle. The tribunal here simply got the law wrong – as the EAT pointed out, if a part-timer’s hours of work were seen as a distinctive feature of dissimilarity compared to that of a full-time worker, it would defeat the whole purpose of the regulations.