Should I have lower targets if I don’t work full time?

I would like to understand if I am correct in saying that because I work four days a week, my target should be 0.8 of a full-time equivalent person on my salary.  I have been in my current role for only a short time and I haven’t hit my target so am facing a performance improvement plan (PIP). I have argued since the start that I should have a lower target due to my base pay and hours, but this has never been accepted for business reasons. If I had had a pro rata target I would have hit it in the most recent month.  In my first months I was paid Monthly Business Objectives based on a full-time person which they are stating will need to be paid back if this goes through. What is my legal position?
Gavel with employment written on it, representing employment law


The area of law would be around potential breach of contract.  You need to look at your contract of employment and the terms and conditions surrounding targets and performance and any clause regarding deductions from salary.  Also, check whether there are any policies around capability and performance. This may be within a disciplinary policy. 

It does seem unfair, but you need to be aware of your contractual requirements. If your employer deducts monies from your salary this may result in a claim for unlawful deduction of earnings.  However, you would need to establish that there has been a breach of contract – i.e., that the employer had no right to make the deductions and that the contract does not allow for deductions to be made.   

There must have been an actual deduction of wages, not just a threat or proposal to deduct money, for it to be classed as an unlawful deduction.   

Any claim for unlawful deduction of earnings must be brought within three months, less one day, of the first or last unlawful deduction being made. If several deductions were made in a row, you have three months minus one day of the most recent deduction.  You can claim up to two years back if there is less than three months between deductions.    

If there is three months between deductions, then this breaks the series of deductions for the purpose of bringing a claim. A claim for breach of contract can also be pursued in the civil courts, however, there is a time limit of six years from the breach (i.e., the non-payment).  There are also court fees to pay. 

A failure to pay wages whilst you are working would be in breach of contract and as such an unlawful deduction. However, a one-off breach will not normally justify resignation and a claim for constructive dismissal. At first instance, you should raise a grievance with your employer to try and resolve the matter. 

It is now mandatory to go through ACAS’s early conciliation scheme before you can submit a claim to the tribunal, more information can be found at

*Nikki Sharpe is an employment expert at Best Solicitors. Nikki advises both businesses and individuals on all aspects of employment law. She specialises in discrimination and bullying in the workplace and supports businesses with HR and employment law training. More information on Nikki Sharpe can be found at

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