Part-time employment contracts

Last updated more than 5 years ago

An employment contract is an agreement that governs a work relationship. In it, one person agrees to work for another in return for payment.

By virtue of law or a collective agreement, an employee who has entered into a part-time employment contract is subject to fewer working hours per week than the standard number of working hours in force in the establishment. This type of contract may be either for a fixed term or an open-ended period.

A part-time employment contract is subject to certain constraints in terms of both form and content.

Who is concerned

The following parties are involved in the establishment of a part-time employment contract:

  • an employee who wishes to work part-time for an employer in return for remuneration;
  • an employer who wishes to hire a part-time employee.

How to proceed

Form of the employment contract

The employment contract must be drawn up:

  • in writing, at the latest when the employee begins work;
  • in duplicate, with one copy for each of the parties.

It is recommended that an employment contract be established in writing since an employment contract entered into verbally is considered to have been entered into for an open-ended period, even if the parties have agreed to another term.

Without a document, and in the event that the employer disputes the existence of a verbal employment contract, the employee may establish its existence and content using any evidence.

Each of the parties to an employment contract may demand that the other sign a written contract. If the other party refuses, the contract may be broken without notice or compensation. Such termination of the agreement may occur, at the earliest, on the third day after the request for a signed contract, and at the latest, within 30 days of the employee's starting work.

It is also possible for the employee and employer to change to a part-time work arrangement by signing a rider to the employment contract. Both parties must agree to change to a part-time system, and must comply with certain formal requirements, namely:

  • a rider drafted in duplicate;
  • the rider must be signed at the latest when the change takes effect.

Content of the employment contract

In addition to the provisions which any contract must contain—whether it is a fixed-term or open-ended contract—, a part-time contract must also specify:

  • the number of working hours per week agreed on between the 2 parties;
  • how the working hours are distributed over the days of the week (a subsequent modification of these terms is only possible with the mutual consent of the parties);
  • where applicable, the limits and terms and conditions under which the employee may work overtime, if they are required to do so (a subsequent modification of these limits is only possible with the mutual consent of the parties);
  • the limits and terms and conditions governing when the employee may work over the daily and weekly limits specified in their employment contract.

A part-time employment contract is subject to the same rules as a full-time contract.

If a part-time fixed-term employment contract is entered into, the contract must also contain the specific provisions required in a fixed-term employment contract.

Trial period

The purpose of the trial period is to:

  • allow the employee to ensure that the job is suitable for them;
  • allow the employer to assess the employee's skills.

A part-time contract may provide for a trial period.

The rules regarding the trial period are the same as for a full-time employment contract.

This trail period may not, however, be longer than the trial period for full-time employees. In other words, the duration of the trial period may not be increased in order to compensate for the fact that a part-time employee has fewer working hours than a full-time employee.

For example: for a part-time employee with an education level higher than a DAP / CATP, their trial period may not exceed 6 months, as is the case for a full-time employee.

Working hours

In addition to the number of working hours provided for in their contract, part-time employees may also be required to work overtime;

Normal working hours

Even though part-time employees have fewer working hours than the standard number of working hours in force in the business, they can nevertheless be required to work over and beyond the daily and weekly limits stipulated in their contract, provided that:

  • the average number of working hours per week, calculated over a reference period of 4 consecutive weeks, does not exceed the standard number of working hours per weekprovided for in the contract; and
  • the actual daily and weekly working hours do not exceed the standard daily and weekly working hours provided for in the contract by more than 20 %.
For example: if the employee's contract provides for 20 hours a week, the employee may work:
  • 18 hours the first week;
  • 18 hours the second week;
  • 21 hours the 3rd week;
  • 23 hours the fourth week.

The average number of working hours per week is 20 hours ((18 + 18 + 21 + 23) / 4); the number of working hours provided for in the contract is therefore respected, as is the maximum number of working hours per week, which is 24 hours (20 % of 20 hours = 4 hours; 20 hours + 4 hours = 24 hours).

However, the contract may specify that the number of hours actually worked by the part-time employee, per day and per week, may exceed the standard number of working hours per day and per week provided for in the contract by more than 20 %.

However, in applying the aforementioned provisions, the part-time employee's actual working hours may not exceed the number of working hours—provided for by law, or a contractual provision—of a full-time employee in the same establishment or business.

Overtime

Hours worked over and beyond the limits authorised by law, or provided for in the employment contract, are considered to be overtime.

Overtime work is subject to the mutual consent of the employer and employee, under the terms and conditions provided for in the employment contract. An employee's refusal to work overtime beyond the limits provided for in the contract (or under terms and conditions other than those in the employment contract) does not constitute serious or legitimate grounds for dismissal.

In working overtime, the actual number of hours worked by the part-time employee may not exceed the standard number of hours worked by a full-time employee in the same establishment or business.

When a part-time employee works overtime, they are entitled to the extra pay provided for by law.

Employees' rights

Employees who have entered into a part-time employment contract with their employer may enjoy the same rights as full-time employees.

Amendment of a part-time employment contract

The employee's consent is required to amend:

  • the terms and conditions governing how the working hours are distributed throughout the week;
  • the limits and terms and conditions under which the part-time employee may work overtime.

Nevertheless, the employer may unilaterally modify the working hours provided they comply with the legal form and time-frame requirements for amending an employment contract.

The same rights as full-time employees

Part-time employees enjoy the same rights, provided for by law or in a collective agreement, as their full-time co-workers, in particular:

  • taking into account their working hours and length of service in the business, remuneration of part-time employees is proportional to that of equally qualified employees who work full-time in a similar position in the business;
  • to determine rights based on length of service, the duration thereof is identical to that considered for a full-time job;
  • Severance pay for employees who have successively held full-time and part-time positions in the same business is calculated proportionally according to these two arrangements.

However, a collective agreement may provide for special rights for part-time employees.

Informing employees

The employees of an establishment who have expressed a desire to either hold or resume part-time employment, or to hold or resume full-time employment, are informed on a priority basis of any part-time or full-time jobs that are available in the establishment matching their professional experience or qualifications.

The refusal of a full-time employee to perform part-time work does not constitute serious or legitimate grounds for dismissal. Likewise, the fact that a part-time employee refuses to accept or resume full-time work does not constitute serious or legitimate grounds for dismissal.

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