Most of the time, reconciling a balance between family and working life is the reason for seeking a part-time job. But what can one do when the employer does not agree?
After a period of employment of six months, companies who employ more than 15 people are generally obliged to permit an application for a part-time job, and to fix the working hours according to the workers wishes. The company can only refuse if operational grounds are opposed to the wish to work part-time, for example because organisational procedures would be heavily disturbed by the reduced hours or because the desired working hours do not fit into a working hour scheme elaborated in cooperation with the works council. In this case, the employer must declare his refusal not later than one month before the requested beginning of the part-time hours. If the employer does not refuse the request by the due date or if his grounds for refusal are not sufficient, the employee can legally enforce his right to part-time work. In cases of urgent necessity, for instance if without a change in hours, childcare cannot be guaranteed, expedited proceedings are possible, which generally lead to a court decision within a few days or weeks.
The formal requirements for making a part-time application are not complicated. The application can be filed orally at least three months before the proposed starting date of the part-time work providing the opportunity for the employer to adapt to the change in hours. The application can also be made repeatedly; however, the worker must respect a time-limit of two years before he can file a new application, after having an application for part time work granted or refused legitimately.
It is still largely unknown, that an employer who has permitted a part-time application can subsequently change the employee’s working hours, if the business’ interests clearly outweigh the employee’s interests. Therefore, in order to secure the requested working hours, a contractual arrangement is essential.
When family circumstances change, part-time workers may wish to return to their full-time job. However, part-time jobs are considered permanent, a temporary reduction of the working-hours only possible in agreement with the employer. That’s why, after securing his/her wish to work part-time, the employee can only inform the employer of their wish to work longer hours. Having done this, the employer is obliged to give priority to the employee with candidates of equal merit, when he wants to fill a full-time vacancy.
When you are pregnant, you should plan your return to working life after parental leave: How long do you want to leave? When do you wish to return to work? What hours would you like to work after the birth of your child? In this instance, formal requirements and time limits must be met.
I would be pleased to advise you extensively in all matters concerning part-time work and in general in all other employment law matters.