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Part-time work

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Part-time work


Part time workers receive comparable treatment to full time staff on open-ended contracts.


The Directive implements the Framework Agreement on part-time work agreed between the European Union’s (EU) employers and trade unions (the social partners).

The Agreement sets out to remove unjustified discrimination of part-time workers and improve the quality of part-time work. It also aims to help develop part-time work on a voluntary basis and allow employees and employers to organise working time in a way which suits both parties’ needs.


Who does it apply to?

It applies to part-time workers who have an employment contractor employment relationship as defined in each EU country. Those working only on a casual basis may be excluded for objective reasons following consultation between the EU country concerned and its social partners.


Part-time workers cannot be treated less favourably than comparable full-time workers solely because they work part-time, unless it can be objectively justified. Particular employment conditions may be subject to a period of service, time worked or based on the level of earnings, following consultation between EU countries and social partners.

Access to part-time work

Social partners, working either on their own initiative or in consultation with governments, should seek out, review and if necessary removevice versa any legal or administrative issue which reduces opportunities for part-time work. A worker's refusal to transfer from full-time to part-time work orvice versa is not sufficient reason for their dismissal.

The role of employers

Employers should fully consider:

requests to transfer from full-time work to any part-time work that becomes available

requests to transfer from part-time to full-time or to increase working time where the opportunity arises

providing timely information on the availability of part-time and full-time jobs

measures to promote part-time work at all levels of the company

providing appropriate information to worker's representatives about part-time working.


EU countries or social partners can introduce more favourable rules than those set out in the agreement. However, implementing the agreement is not a valid reason to reduce the general level of protection afforded to part-time workers.

For more information, see Working Conditions - Part-Time Work on the European Commission's website.


Council Directive 97/81/EC of 15 December 1997 concerning the Framework Agreement on part-time working concluded by UNICE, CEEP and the ETUC - Annex : Framework agreement on part-time work



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 97/81/EC



OJ L 14, 20.1.1998, pp. 9-14

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Directive 98/23/EC



OJ L 131, 5.5.1998, p. 10

last update 06.10.2015