I’ve said before – many times – that we need to rethink our approach to part-time work. This is increasingly obvious in the light of the changing nature of employment generally, and not only in relation to the PP. Included in this rethinking should be proposals for new ways of classifying part-timers. The simplistic binary division into full-time and part-time has to go if women’s careers and competences are to get a fair shout.
In the last chapter of the PP book I suggest that we might restrict ‘part-time’ to work that is 8 hours a week or less, i.e. that is genuinely marginal. This may be a step too far. But I’ve taken some inspiration from the Netherlands, where they have at least a slightly more fine-grained approach.
The chart below shows how, as a matter of standard presentation, the Dutch draw lines at 12 and 20 hours, to give a three fold division. This allows a much better understanding of what is happening. In this case,m we can see that over half of all employed Dutch women are working at least 20 hours a week. This level of work commitment is not marginal. It’s also interesting to see that almost as many women as men work overtime.
Employed labour force by working hours and overtime, 2013
I got these figures through the good offices of David Mallows – thanks David – who put me in touch with Ilse van der Horst. Ilse sounds a warning note, in case we think it’s all rosy in the Dutch garden.
I would like to add a critical note to the piece of your friend. Not in every sector it is possible and/or accepted to work part-time. In sectors where many women work, it is very common to work part-time. In sectors that are dominated by men, it is far more difficult to arrange working part-time. Furthermore many high-paid jobs are fulltime, so women who want to get higher up have to choose between making career or having more spare time. Thus, although women’s labour participation has increased, there are still some challenges.