Most British Part-Time Workers Feel “Trapped” In Jobs
11:15 am, July 8th | by Grace Rasmus
Three-fourths of part-time workers in the U.K. believe their part-time schedule is damaging their career prospects, with many having “traded down” their skill level and accepting less pay just to work flexibly, research shows.
A survey of 1,000 part-time professionals by the Timewise Foundation found that eight in 10 part-time workers said flexible hours were crucial to making their life work, with many – often women – trying to balance the demands of childcare with work. Two-fifths said that in order to work flexibly, they have “traded down” their careers by taking jobs that are beneath their skills and full-time equivalent pay level.
According to the research, about a quarter of Britons now work 30 hours or less per week. Three out of four of these part-time workers have not been promoted at all since starting to work flexibly. More than a fifth said they wouldn’t even expect to be promoted, even though over a quarter of those surveyed think that they are over-qualified for their current part-time job. Six in 10 workers think promotion would be possible only if they increased their hours.
Seven in 10 of respondents said they had downgraded the salary and level of job they applied for, with the average salary sacrifice at $10,031 USD. Employees with children expected to take home $650 USD less than those without.
“Work in the U.K. is undergoing a fundamental shift,” Karen Mattison, co-founder of the Timewise Foundation, a business aimed at supporting part-time workers, told The Guardian. “More than a quarter of UK workers are part-time or flexible, with most needing to fit their careers with something else in life. Yet millions are hitting a wall at key points in their careers, when they want to progress or move to a new role.”
Elizabeth Gardiner, head of policy at Working Families, said that employers should openly encourage flexible work hours since leaving flexibility out of a job description limits the number of qualified workers who will apply.
“It may be the easy option to offer a vacancy on the same basis as the last full-time job, but there is a business case for changing practice,” Gardiner said. “Failing to advertise jobs as available on a part-time or flexible basis means employers are recruiting from a limited talent pool, and skilled part-time workers are less able to advance their careers.”
Last year, Timewise revealed a “power list” of 50 senior professionals working part-time in Britain. The Foundation will relaunch the list this year, calling on companies to nominate their most senior part-time workers to join it in an attempt to spread the word that seniority and part-time work can go hand in hand.
Steve Varley, chairman and managing partner of Ernst & Young, who is on the judging panel for the power part-time list, said, “It is time that businesses stopped noticing work hours, measuring productivity in presenteeism, and instead focused on outputs. In a fast paced global economy, when business large and small are working with clients and colleagues across borders in different time zones, flexible working can provide a real competitive advantage.”