Part Time Workers

Topic: Work-Life Balance
Publication: British Journal of Management (JUN 2009)
Article: ‘Full time is a given here’: Part-time versus full-time job quality
Authors: McDonald, P., Bradley, L., & Brown, K.
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger

More and more, employees are utilizing alternative work arrangements (flextime, flexplace) and part-time employment is increasing. And surprise, surprise –  part-time employment is predominantly utilized by women.  It has been suggested that this is due to the increased flexibility that part-time work grants (to balance work and family demands). But, what else should you know about part-time work?

McDonald, Bradley, and Brown (2009) interviewed 40 employees from an Australian government agency about their perceptions of the quality of part-time work.

Despite the advantage of providing flexibility to employees, McDonald and colleagues uncovered several intriguing disadvantages of part-time work:

·   Part-time employees are often relegated on lower status projects than full-time employees.

·   In some cases, part-time workers are devalued as team members and contributors to the organization.

·   Some supervisors feel that part-time employees are less committed to the organization than full-time employees (less time at work apparently = less commitment to some managers).

·   Some think that it is unnecessary to provide mentoring or developmental opportunities to part-time employees (they must be more concerned with family life, so why develop them as employees?).

All in all, before accepting a part-time job, applicants/employees should consider these potential disadvantages.  It seems that part-time workers are perceived very differently than their full-time peers (at least in this study).  An additional issue to consider is that part-time employment is overwhelmingly utilized by women (hmm, does gender inequality in the workplace ring a bell to anyone?). Perhaps this trend contributes to many of the gender inequalities that are currently witnessed in the workplace.

McDonald, P., Bradley, L., & Brown, K. (2009). ‘Full time is a given here’: Part-time versus full-time job quality. British Journal of Management, 20, 143-157.