Part-time work enables participation in working life; this applies, for example, to the re-entry of women after parental leave. It is almost always desired for private reasons. More than 90 % of all women in part-time employment do not work full-time for private reasons (Destatis 2020). There is no such thing as a part-time trap.
Part-time work gives employees the opportunity to adapt their working hours to their individual needs and thus promotes in particular the compatibility of family and work. More than one third of those in employment cite family responsibilities as a reason for working part-time, such as looking after children or persons in need of care. Among women working part-time, the figure is even just under 50% (Destatis 2020; Quality of Work, 2017, p. 31). Part-time employment in particular has increased the labour force participation of women; in 2000, it was still 61 % of all women, in 2019 it was 77 % (Eurostat 2019). In addition, just under 10 % of part-time workers do not work full-time for reasons of education and training.
It is important that the employer's organisational sovereignty is preserved. It is an essential condition for the success of his business that he can determine the volume of work in the company and distribute it according to his requirements. In order to prevent unnecessary burdens on companies, the conditions for the threshold value and the reasonableness limit in particular should be improved. In particular, all part-time relationships must count, regardless of their respective legal basis.
Reduction in working hours
Employees whose employment relationship has lasted longer than six months can demand a reduction in working hours under certain conditions. The entitlement exists in companies with, as a rule, more than 15 employees. The employee must contact the employer with his request at least three months in advance. He can decide on the extent of the reduction and the location of his working time. In principle, the employer must also make part-time work possible for employees in managerial positions.
The employer must discuss the employee's request with the aim of reaching a corresponding agreement. In principle, he must agree to the reduction request unless there are operational reasons to the contrary. These can be impairments of the organisation, the workflow or the safety in the company, insofar as these are essential or if the part-time work would cause disproportionate costs. In practice, this regulation has created a high administrative burden for companies. The employer must notify the employee of his or her decision in writing one month before the desired start of part-time work. If he fails to do so, the part-time work automatically begins in the desired form, even if no agreement has been reached between the parties. In principle, companies are already very committed to trying to accommodate the individual wishes and needs of employees. However, it is also clear that it is seldom possible to find a replacement on the labour market at short notice for employees on bridging part-time work who wish to fill in for part-time work and only for a limited period of time. Therefore, when an employee takes advantage of bridge part-time, it often means that the rest of the team has to pick up the slack.
Request for extension of working hours
Part-time employees have a right to request that the employer give them preferential consideration when filling existing vacancies with a correspondingly higher volume of working hours. The employer does not have to create such a job with a higher number of hours. However, the employer must take action if a vacancy exists that corresponds to the part-time employee's request. The employer can then only counter the employee's wish for an extension with "urgent operational reasons". Although the reversal of the burden of proof included in the law is superfluous, it was possible, at the instigation of the BDA, to avert the originally envisaged threat of a substantial encroachment on entrepreneurial freedom in the event of an extension of working hours. This prevented the employees from having a say in the volume of work in the company. Thus, the constitutionally protected core competence of the employer over the determination of the scope of the operational working time and its distribution correctly remains untouched.
Pro rata temporis principle
In general, the pro rata temporis principle should apply in labour law, as is already the case with Section 23 (1) sentence 4 KSchG. In more concrete terms, employees with a working time of up to 20 hours per week should be taken into account with a factor of 0.5 and with up to 30 hours per week with a factor of 0.75. This makes sense and is necessary for any threshold in labour law. This is because companies with many part-time employees are disadvantaged if statutory thresholds for the number of employees do not take into account the respective weekly working hours of the employees. Such a correction is necessary in order to avoid an extension of co-determination within the company as a result of bridge part-time working.