Should we all just work part time?

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Those who work part time are either in the fortunate position of not requiring a full-time role; they can only find part-time work; or circumstances require it. But what if that’s why everyone did?

Jennifer Nadelsky is a Canadian professor, fellow of the Institute for Social Justice, and believes that we should all work between 12 and 30 hours a week with no-one working the typical 35-40 hours that most people in the developed world work.

Before you start thinking how nice it would be to have all that extra free time to indulge your passions just hold on… the other part of the professor’s idea is that we all also do 12 to 30 hours of unpaid care work too.

With her social justice credentials, you would expect Professor Nadelsky’s plan to come from a point of fairness and balance. It would mean, she says, full employment and better diversity.

She also suggests that those who undertake care work – and this could be as simple as looking after their own children while their partner works – learn valuable social and practical skills that can also benefit their paid employment.

Speaking to Professor Nadelsky said that working long hours is making employees unproductive: “The growing stress on employees costs businesses a huge amount in missed days of work, poor attention etc.”

While there may be some great benefits to be gained from the plan, making it work across the board could prove tricky. Although some employees would welcome the flexibility of part time and with childcare costs removed may even balance the books, single people without children may not see any benefit – just a halved pay cheque.

For employers though, the professor’s views on productivity of part-time staff is interesting. While flexibility to work part-time, especially for those with children, is widespread, further investigation may show that an entirely part-time workforce within individual organizations could be the future.
  • Mal on 2015-09-01 10:32:47 PM

    I am in agreement with Professor Nedelsky's suggestion. For parents with young children as well as those who have to take care of elderly parents, it would help them not only to balance life but improve the quality of life for all. It would be interesting to compare studies on the quality of life of families when there was only one parent working to today's lifestyle where both parents have to work to make ends meet. Also, if there is part time work for both parents it would equate to one parent working and yet both male and female will have equal opportunity to raise children or take care of elderly and at the same time have a career.

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