Part-time Workers

Oral Answers to Questions — Employment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 18th October 1994.

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Photo of Brian H Donohoe Brian H Donohoe , Cunninghame South 12:00 am, 18th October 1994

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if the Government will introduce legislation to protect part-time workers.

Photo of Ann Widdecombe Ann Widdecombe , Maidstone

Part-time workers already have a wide range of employment protection rights.

Photo of Brian H Donohoe Brian H Donohoe , Cunninghame South

Part-time employees do not have the same employment rights as full-time employees, especially when it comes to industrial tribunals. Will the Minister give a cast-iron assurance that she will extend the same rights to part-time employees?

Photo of Ann Widdecombe Ann Widdecombe , Maidstone

Part-time employees already have important rights, including those relating to race and sex discrimination, health and safety, trade union membership and activities, unlawful deductions from wages and time off for ante-natal care. That is a very comprehensive package.

Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans , Ribble Valley

Is my hon. Friend aware that my constituency has the lowest level of unemployment in the United Kingdom? Many of those people are part-time workers. The best employment protection that they can have is for their jobs to be protected. Will my hon. Friend give the House a commitment that her Department, will continue to scrutinise European Community directives and ensure that it uses its veto, where necessary, to protect the jobs of part-time and full-time workers in this country?

Photo of Ann Widdecombe Ann Widdecombe , Maidstone

I am happy to guarantee to my hon. Friend that we will do all that we can to protect part-time jobs and part-time job opportunities when they are threatened by kind-hearted but deeply economically misguided proposals for the further imposition of legislation.

Photo of Mr Greville Janner Mr Greville Janner , Leicester West

Does the Minister not know that, as a result of recent decisions in European courts, part-timers in Britain are already protected against unfair dismissal and redundancy? Will the Government now make that clear, if not by answering my letters to that effect, by introducing legislation in the next Session, so that we comply with European law and get rid of that discrimination?

Photo of Ann Widdecombe Ann Widdecombe , Maidstone

The Government always seek to comply with any directive to which we have signed up. That will continue to be our position. We will also continue to answer all the letters that the hon. and learned Member sends to our Department. Not one letter has gone unanswered. Perhaps he would like assistance in understanding the answers.