Gail Adams is employed on a pro-rata contract at Northern Regional College and was required to study for a teaching qualification known as the PGCFHE. Full time lecturers who undertook the course were given 3 hours reduction in their teaching commitments to enable them to study. Ms Adams was given less of this 'remitted time', even though she had to undertake the whole course, like full-time colleagues. The Tribunal said that her permitted remitted time was "woefully insufficient".

With the help of her union, the University and College Union (UCU) and Thompsons McClure Solicitors, Ms Adams lodged an application to the Belfast employment tribunal claiming that she was being discriminated against and citing employment legislation: the Part-Time Workers (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations.

Ms Adams claimed that as she had to undertake all the course and pass it, her employer's conduct had been inappropriate and unlawful.

UK government guidance on this legislation states "part-time workers should not lose out in their training simply because of their part time status" and that part-time workers should be paid "for the extra hours that they attend outside their normal working hours".

The tribunal agreed Ms Adams had suffered unjustifable discrimination and ordered her employer to pay compensation based upon the costs of the time denied to her.

UCU Northern Ireland Official Jim McKeown commented:

'Gail Adams was prepared to stand up against a clear abuse of her rights as a part-time worker. She had the full support of her UCU branch and the regional office and the legal team did a fine job. UCU is advising any part-time lecturer in a similar position to lodge a similar claim.

'This is an important decision with implications for every college employer. Part-time college lecturers across the UK are generally treated rather poorly, paid for their teaching time but only for part of the many hours they spend on lesson preparation and marking or on their professional development. This is another small step in improving their lot.'

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