Workers feel trapped by part-time work

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Where permanent, full-time work used to be the model, more and more are turning to part-time and contract employees to fill gaps. But are you doing a disservice to your part-time staff?

Three out of four part-time employees feel they have no prospect for promotion, but also feel they’re unlikely to find another job with similar seniority and flexibility, a new survey has found.

Workers find themselves falling into the “flexibility trap”, according to the survey of 1000 British part-time workers by the Timewise Foundation.

“More than a quarter of UK workers are now part time or flexible, with most needing to fit their careers with something else in life,” Timewise Foundation co-founder Karen Mattison said. “Yet millions are hitting a wall at key points in their careers, when they want to progress or move to a new role. Doing so, without losing their flexibility, presents a real challenge: leaving many feeling trapped in their current jobs.”

Canadian figures show 25.3% of workers are part-time, with women making up the majority (70%) of part-time staff.

According to the Timewise figures, 70% of UK part-time employees had not been promoted since making the switch to part-time working, and two-thirds said they were not likely to be unless they changed to full-time work. But for a third of respondents increased hours were not an hours because of other commitments in their lives.

Relentless Economics principal Lynda Nazareth said part-time work was increasing, and may be the “new normal” for companies, which had ramifications for individuals and the economy, because the country was not as productive when so many workers are only working part-time hours.

 “Clearly there are some workers who are getting shut out of the available opportunities. If the problem is that they lack the skills to match available positions, policy could address the situation,” Nazareth said.

There were also ramifications for those with families who could be missing out on opportunities for advancement due to family obligations, according to Working Families chief executive Sarah Jackson.

“Flexible working is a means to an end – delivering highly productive, engaged and motivated workers,” she said. “Unless flexible workers are given equal opportunities for advancing their careers, the business benefits will be undermined. We should not be asking women or men to choose between a work-life balance and a career – it is high time they had both.” 

 

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