Part-time workers reach record high during recession, official figures show

by Barrie Hopson on February 17, 2010 · 2 comments

in New ways of working,The Book

What is fascinating is the almost unanimous commentary on this phenomenon, namely, that part time work is on the increase because everyone doing it actually would prefer a full time job but for many at present that is not possible.  The belief of what a ‘proper job’ is remains the underlying assumption behind almost any discussion about the nature of paid work. I quote from Personnel Today, ” in the three months to December 2009 there were 1.04 million employees and self-employed people working part-time because they could not find a full-time job. This represented an increase of 37,000 on the previous quarter and is the highest figure since records began in 1992″. There is no admission that this is a value judgement on the nature of paid work. Maybe – just maybe, everyone who is doing part time work are not seeking full time work. This makes even more sense if you believe what we keep hammering on this site that the real question for people is not whether work is full or part time which therefore could range from 1 hour a week to 40+ but how many hours a week do we wish to engage in paid work.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sara February 23, 2010 at 10:19 am

Having just spent the last 22 months working part time out of choice, I can testify to the prejudices that exist in the workplace as to when it is / is not appropriate to work part time.

As a (youngish!) woman – but not a mother – I was regularly questioned as to why I was working part time and exactly what it was that I did in the time that I wasn’t at the office. The attitude – many times unspoken, but stated in the looks of askance – was that part-time work is an acceptable choice if you’re balancing a career with motherhood or if you’re semi-retired, but not if it’s simply a preference.

Whilst I had my reasons for chosing part-time work and ones that were very valid to me, I did tire of being asked to justify or ‘excuse’ myself for working part time. (I never asked those working full time why they did so and whether they shouldn’t be at home/doing something else!)

My motivations in life were, and are, different – I’m not looking for seniority, status or a higher (full-time) salary, but I am looking for variety, contrast, and a fulfilled and well-rounded life. I think this is valid… Don’t you?!

2 Barrie Hopson February 23, 2010 at 10:39 am

I think it is totally valid and increasingly will become so as people begin to dump 20th Century concepts like ‘full time’ and ‘part time’ work. ‘How many hours do I want to spend in paid work at this time in my life’ is likely to be the new question. Quickly followed by ‘how does this fit in with the other things that I want to add to my portfolio living’. Hang on in there Sara – others will begin to see the pluses of your way of life. There is another way!

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