Coronavirus permanently damaged part-time worker's roles

Despite the widespread adoption of remote working, the pandemic has worsened part-time workers’ abilities to get the flexible arrangements they need.

Timewise’s report included plenty of anecdotal evidence of part-time workers not having the same respect in the workplace as their full time colleagues. 

One said: “You’re not included in social groups, it means you’re on the fringe, a cheap resource, filling a gap. You’re not included in the framework of the company.”

Another highlighted how part-time work can be exploitative: “People can be left at the mercy of employers. They hold out flexibility as a carrot, but when the work dries up, they’re not good to their employees.”

Using and dropping part-time workers on demand has been partly driven by talent shortage issues in the UK.

However, Emma Stewart, co-founder and director of development at Timewise, said: “Across the jobs market there has been a greater focus on location-based flexibility rather than time-based flexibility.”

The report builds on research from earlier this year which found nearly three-quarters of UK job vacancies till don’t not mention flexible work as an option,

It revealed that significant change would be needed to challenge perceptions of part-time work and the benefits it brings to business, even in typically hard-to-flex roles.

A timeline of flexible work in the UK:

Speaking to HR magazine, Stewart said there has also been a trend for more part-time workers taking on full-time roles to support partners who have been made redundant, and others dropping out of the labour market entirely due to the poor quality of work.

“Without better-quality part-time jobs, many groups – particularly women – will remain trapped in whatever low-calibre part-time role they can find, or else feel forced to drop out of work altogether,” she said.

“Consequently, people’s sense of value and worth is being eroded and their skills under-utilised.”

Based on participant's responses, the report recommends taking measures to improve managers’ understanding of part-time job design.

Participants also believed workplaces could become more receptive to part-time jobs if they introduced the right to ask for flexible working from day one.

Stewart added: “We would urge HR leaders to invest in equipping managers to design and manage flexible teams – including part-time workers -  in order to benefit from the skills and experience they can offer.”

Timewise’s full report Voices from the pandemic: Part-time workers and job seekers can be found here.