As the deadline to report gender pay gap data approaches on 4th April, we explore attitudes to part-time work and how these are contributing to it. Ultimately, it all feeds into the same bias – that part-time workers aren’t as committed as full-time ones.
Kate once worked part-time before going freelance. Here she tells our part-time employment agency what it was like.
“I think there’s an attitude still prevalent in workplaces that part-time workers aren’t always on, so won’t be as committed as their full-time counterparts. Yet, actually, I was just as efficient, if not more so, because I only had a finite amount of time to get my tasks done.”
The part-time guilt factor
“What’s more, because I felt slightly guilty about leaving on time, I would always put my hand up to go the extra mile when I could. I would do things nobody else wanted to do, like volunteer to compile the office pub quiz or plan the Christmas party. And boy was that a labour of love! I think people assume that when you’re part-time, you have loads of free time.
“I mean, what part-time worker hasn’t heard the phrase, ‘enjoy your day off’ as they walk out the door on their final working day? Or ‘nice of you to join us’ as you walk in?
“This is often well meant, said by more junior members of staff, but not exclusively. Little did they know, I was going home to clean wet bedding and do reams of laundry that were beginning to take over the house like some sort of Godzilla style monster. And I don’t think my co-workers ever actually made the connection that I was being paid less!
“It can leave a bitter taste in your mouth, particularly when you know your pay packet isn’t what it needs to be once you’ve paid for childcare and everything else.
“I also think my co-workers thought their job was more important than mine – like I could afford to be part-time so I didn’t really need to work like they did. And I had a partner who was also earning, so there is this view that you’re ‘playing’ at your career and you should be home minding your child instead.”
So, is there an attitude towards part-time workers that the UK is failing to admit to?
What’s the problem with part-time workers?
The recent reports about part-time workers being crucial to gender pay gap reveals a lack of promotion, pay rises and a general attitude towards part-time employment that needs to change. Check out part-time workers’ rights here.
Deborah O’Sullivan, Managing Partner at Ten2Two, says, “Nobody thinks about full-time workers not fulfilling their roles properly. We frequently see senior managers being available 24/7 who are actually overworking which isn’t necessarily productive or effective. Who is this helping?
“If you put all these extra hours together, it would be the equivalent of people working their annual leave in free hours. This can lead to stress and burnout and even long-term absence. Yet culturally, our society expects this but doesn’t value the part-time employee in quite the same way – which we know to be very misguided.”
Part-time workers should have objectives in place just like everyone else and they should be discussed at regular performance reviews with the same approach as full time workers.
Part-time workers going the extra mile
There may be times when a part-time worker needs to step up to the plate and go the extra mile – but this shouldn’t be frequent. A part-time worker isn’t paid for days away from work so it is time that should always be respected.
With the right boundaries in place and good communication around how to be contacted on days off if there are any burningly urgent questions to be answered, days out of the office can be managed well.
For employers, part-time and flexible professionals are an excellent way to find top talent without the price of a full-time member of staff. But there needs to be good understanding on both sides of the table to make it work.
Contact our part-time employment agency today
If you’d like to explore your flexible working options in greater detail, please contact our flexible and part-time employment agency today. We look forward to hearing from you.