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Impact of part-time employment


Impact of part-time employment

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Case study: Impact of part-time employment on women's careers

Research into the impact of part-time working on women’s careers has found that switching to part-time often involves a downgrading of occupation and a switch in employer.

Although part-time employment offers opportunities for women to combine work and motherhood, prolonged spells of part-time employment frequently have a detrimental effect on women’s long-term finances and careers.

The research, led by Dr Sara Connolly from Norwich Business School, shows that rather than closing the gender pay gap the extensive use of part-time employment has actually contributed to a new pay gap, that between full- and part-timers.

Hourly rates of pay for women in part-time employment are 35% lower than those for women in full-time employment. With around 40 per cent of all female employment now part-time, this raises important policy implications about how best to utilise an increasingly skilled female workforce whilst supporting working families.

Research shows that the growth in part-time work for women is also associated with a hidden ‘brain-drain’ where many women’s skills are underemployed, trapping some in low-skilled sectors.

Tracing the role of part-time work in women’s careers, researchers found that the longer the spell of part-time working the less likely women were to move back into full-time, often never managing to recover their previous career trajectory.

The research, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) demonstrates the need for greater availability of opportunities for part-time work within women’s existing jobs. The Low Pay Commission (LPC) frequently uses the findings in evidence when debating the likely impacts of an increase to National Minimum Wage. The research has also influenced wider thinking about part-time work, including on the UK government’s consideration of flexible working.

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Dr Sara Connolly

Reader in Personnel Economics, Norwich Business School

Research Interests

My research is in the broad field of personnel economics and investigates educational attainment, training, pay and career progression.

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