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Dualisation of Part-Time WorkThe Development of Labour Market Insiders and Outsiders$

Heidi Nicolaisen, Hanne Kavli, and Ragnhild Steen Jensen

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781447348603

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447348603.001.0001

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Introduction

Introduction

Chapter:
(p.1) 1 Introduction
Source:
Dualisation of Part-Time Work
Author(s):

Heidi Nicolaisen

Hanne Cecilie Kavli

Ragnhild Steen Jensen

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781447348603.003.0001

Abstract and Keywords

The introduction chapter outline the conceptual framework for the volume and describe the current patterns of part-time work. Part-time work has been a much visited research topic and the typical part-time worker still is a woman with children. Although gender and work-life balance continue to be at the heart of this topic, part-time work is increasingly connected to the political and academic debates about labour market outsiders. The ambition of this volume is to provide an up-to-date account of what kind of labour market phenomenon part-time work is to different categories of workers across Europe, the USA, Australia and South Korea and to explore how part-time is linked to precarious work and labour market dualisation. We discuss how the politics, regulations and institutions at different levels (supranational, national and workplace) have the capacity to influence part-time work. Based on the contributions to this book we present a typology of part-time work which moves beyond the traditional insider/outsider divide and provides a more diverse vocabulary for later analysis of part-time work.

Keywords:   Part-time work, conceptual framework, typology, labour market insiders and outsiders

This book reopens the debate on the position of part-time workers. Part-time employment is a topic of perpetual importance. It affects workers’ pay and quality of life, as well as employers’ costs and flexibility. It also affects society as a whole through its impact on the available workforce. For decades, working less than full-time has been associated with female workers and with precarious or marginal employment (Blossfeld and Hakim, 1997; O’Reilly and Fagan, 1998). Moreover, it is identified as a key indicator of being a labour market outsider (Vosko, 2010; Emmenegger et al, 2012). This presents a dilemma to both individual workers and politicians as part-time work is also a way for families in general, and women in particular, to reconcile family obligations with paid work.

Traditionally, there have been two main types of explanation for why people work part-time: One is related to demand factors and emphasises the influence from employers, as well as market conditions and occupational structures. The other focuses on supply-related factors, such as the employee’s work–life balance and education, and the division of labour between men and women in the family (see, eg, Blossfeld and Hakim, 1997; O’Reilly and Fagan, 1998). Regulation of the labour market and social protection has the potential to modify the influence of demand and supply factors, and either maintain, reduce or enlarge the inequality between part-time and full-time workers, as well as between different groups of part-time workers. The dualisation perspective places emphasis on the role of politics, and we will draw on this perspective to strengthen understandings of how regulations can influence part-time work. A key question is whether the politics that regulate labour markets and social protection increase or decrease the divide between labour market insiders and outsiders. The contributions in this book demonstrate that changes in working-time patterns are (p.2) rooted in various policy domains, often in more than one at a time, and the process of change may, or may not, pull in the same direction. We also examine differences not only between full-time and part-time workers, but also between different categories of part-time workers.

Political actors at the national and supranational levels have engaged, albeit to varying degrees and with different agendas, to address part-time work. By linking part-time work to current debates on precarious work and dualisation, this book provides an up-to-date account of what kind of labour market phenomenon part-time work represents to different categories of workers. The quality of part-time work is determined by numerous characteristics: if it is long or short; if it voluntary or involuntary; if the work schedule harmonises with standard hours or not; and if the predictability of work and leisure is high or low. For employees, the combination of short and involuntary part-time work tends to be bad in both economic and temporal terms. The quality of part-time work also relates to the stability of the employment relationship and a wider set of working conditions.

The book makes four contributions to the literature and to public debates on part-time work. First, it offers new perspectives and analyses on the regulation of part-time work at the supranational, national and workplace levels. Second, by focusing on similarities and differences among part-time workers, it develops a typology of part-time work that goes beyond the traditional insider–outsider divide and provides a more diverse vocabulary for later descriptions and discussions of part-time work. Third, it provides an up-to-date account of part-time work and its consequences in a range of countries and regime types. Fourth, it initiates a debate on part-time work among men.

In the following sections, we first define and clarify key theories and concepts used throughout this volume. Then, we move on and outline current knowledge and arguments pertaining to the three thematic sections of the book; the politics and regulations of part-time work at different levels; the quality of part-time work; and the influence of work–life balance policies. Based on the contributions in this volume, we then develop a new typology of part-time work. Finally, we present statistical information about part-time work across time and countries before we describe the chapter contributions.

Part-time work: theories and concepts

Theories and concepts about labour market insiders and outsiders are central to the study of part-time work. Whereas ‘insiders’ are positioned in a well-regulated part of the labour market, ‘outsiders’ (p.3) face less stable and often harsher conditions. The concepts that have been developed to understand and investigate this insider–outsider divide both complement and overlap each other.

Many of the concepts take, more or less explicitly, the standard employment relationship as their reference point for a labour market ‘insider’. The standard employment relationship, as defined by Bosch (2006), describes the traditional full-time core worker who enjoys job stability, and where social standards and protections are closely linked with permanent, full-time work. Others have added access to promotion, training, job content and work intensity (see, eg, Lyonette et al, 2010) as central aspects of job quality. A key hypothesis is that this ideal, or template, of the standard employment relationship is now breaking up in favour of a diversity of non-standard, atypical employment relationships, of which part-time work is one of several. Welfare states were initially designed to take care of the needs of male, full-time production workers. This departure from the standard employment relationship is therefore coupled with increased risks of poverty and loss of social protection, in particular, if welfare rights are closely linked to (full-time) employment (Palier, 2010). As pointed out by Rubery et al (2018: 510), policy responses to the growth in non-standard employment are taking different directions. On the one hand, there are examples of de-commodification by extending protection to workers in non-standard positions. One example is the European Union (EU) Part-Time Work Directive (97/81/EC), which makes it unlawful to provide part-timers with employment conditions, for example, pension, sickness health insurance and parental leave rights, that are inferior to those of full-timers (on a pro-rata basis). On the other, the ‘activation agenda’, targeting the unemployed, is increasingly ‘normalising non-standard forms of employment as a route out of unemployment’ (Rubery et al, 2018: 510). When the unemployed, through their dependence on public benefits, are obliged to accept ‘any job’, regardless of the job’s conditions or quality, this opens the field for more precarious and fragmented forms of employment.

The discussion of labour market insiders and outsiders has a long tradition, and many concepts have been developed, for example, labour market segmentation (Rubery et al, 2002), dual labour markets (Doeringer and Piore, 1971) and ‘the flexible firm’ (Atkinson, 1984), which explain how primary and secondary labour markets are made. This happens because employers provide better employment conditions to core staff than to peripheral workers who can more easily be replaced. More recently, the concept of dualisation has been applied in studies of the ongoing changes in working lives and welfare states. We have been (p.4) particularly inspired by the contribution of Emmenegger et al (2012) in their edited volume The age of dualization. Whereas the aforementioned concepts focus on how demand and supply factors contribute to the divide in the labour market, Emmenegger and colleagues emphasise the role of politics. Their argument, in short, is that policies matter and that dualisation ‘implies that policies increasingly differentiate rights, entitlements and services provided to different categories of recipients’ (Emmenegger et al, 2012: 10). Conceptually, they also differentiate between process (dualisation), output (institutional dualism) and outcome (divide). Dualisation can take three forms: a deepening of existing divides, making the differences between insiders and outsider more profound; a widening of the divides, moving previous insiders into outsider positions; and new institutional dualisms. These three forms of institutional dualism can occur both within politics that regulate social protection and within politics that regulate the labour market (Emmenegger et al, 2012: 11).

The dualisation perspective’s emphasis on policy differs from the liberalisation perspective. In the latter, the causes and consequences of outsideness are explained by structural driving forces such as globalisation, deindustrialisation and firms’ need to reduce labour costs (Häusermann and Schwander, 2012; Prosser, 2016). ‘Dualisation’ is also distinguished from other concepts by its orientation towards the processes that create inequality rather than being restricted to the more traditional focus on the outcomes for individuals. The outcome – the labour market divide – is traditionally described in terms of polarisation, segmentation and marginalisation. Moreover, Vosko (2010: 2) describes ‘precarious work’ as work characterised by ‘uncertainty, low income, and limited social benefits and statutory entitlements’. As this definition recognises, precarious work is determined by the nature of the employment relationship, but it is also shaped by other factors, in particular, the extent and role of social protection.

The politics and regulation of part-time work

Twenty-five years ago, part-time work topped the agendas of policymakers at the supranational level. The Part-Time Work Convention implemented by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 1994 recognised the importance of productive and freely chosen employment for all workers, as well as the economic importance of part-time work. Moreover, the Preamble of the convention pointed to the need for employment policies to take into account the role of (p.5) part-time work in creating additional employment opportunities, as well as the need to ensure protection for part-time workers in the areas of access to employment, working conditions and social security.1 The term ‘comparable full-time worker’ was defined and established as the reference category for the conditions of part-time workers. In article 1, ‘comparable full-time worker’ is defined as a full-time worker who: (1) has the same type of employment relationship; (2) is engaged in the same or a similar type of work or occupation; and (3) is employed in the same establishment, enterprise or branch of activity as the part-time worker concerned. Full-time workers affected by a temporary reduction in their normal hours are not considered to be part-time workers.

The ILO convention had a direct impact on the legislative process in the EU and the Part-time Work Directive2 that came into effect three years later. The 1997 directive was based on similar principles and made it unlawful for member states to treat part-time workers as inferior to full-time workers. Now, more than two decades later, it is time to ask if, and how, supranational regulations influence part-time work. The capacity of supranational bodies to influence part-time work in different countries depends upon their authority, how regulations are advocated and implemented, and how individual countries respond. National institutions, for example, labour law and the system for collective bargaining, often adapt to supranational regulations and other types of change in ways that are compatible with the system’s unique and original identity (see, eg, Soskice and Hall, 2001; Traxler, 2003). Hence, it is likely that the national level has a significant impact, and relative stability within countries is observed over time (Traxler, 2003). The EU Part-Time Work Directive has had very different effects on labour laws in different member states. In some countries, the directive produced little change. This was the case in countries like Norway and Sweden, where part-time workers had had equal employment conditions to those of full-timers for decades (Andersen, 2003). In other countries where part-time work had been less regulated, such as Ireland, the implementation of the directive had a more substantial impact on national labour law (Nicolaisen, 2011).

The ability of actors to avoid, undermine or counteract regulations at any level will rely on the nature of the regulations, or the regulatory effectiveness of formal protections, their design, application and enforcement. If regulations are ‘soft’, voluntary and have a suggestive character, it is easier to escape implementation than if they are ‘hard’ and legally binding (Tomlinson, 2006; Sisson, 2013). However, strong regulations do not guarantee implementation ( (p.6) Kanbur and Ronconi, 2018). Without vigorous enforcement mechanisms (eg a labour inspectorate and labour court) and advocacy in the workplace (eg from trade union representatives or employers), working-time regulations may have limited practical application (Haipeter, 2006). Hence, a multilevel approach is required to understand the transformative capacity of politics and regulations. Moreover, it is not sufficient to examine regulations alone. Implementation and enforcement mechanisms need to be explored to get the full picture of the capacity of regulations to modify inequality. Several contributors to this book analyse how politics and regulations at different levels influence the conditions of part-time workers, the relative importance of different regulations and how they interact (see Chapters 2, 4, 6, 10 and 12). Key regulatory levels are the supranational, the national and the workplace.

The quality of part-time work

Employers tend to provide ‘good’ and ‘bad’ part-time positions systematically to different categories of workers. In the primary labour market, they offer good part-time work to attract and retain core workers who, for some reason, cannot or will not enter into a full-time contract (see, eg, Tilly, 1996; Blossfeld and Hakim, 1997; Webber and Williams, 2008). These workers benefit from the ‘standard employment relationship’ (Bosch, 2006), in which work is well paid, integrated at the workplace and entitles workers to social protection. As for more disposable workers in the secondary labour market, employers offer part-time jobs with poorer conditions to give their businesses numerical and financial flexibility (Atkinson, 1984; Tilly, 1996). This type of part-time employment is characterised by working conditions and social protection of low quality and often a very low number of contracted hours (Blossfeld and Hakim, 1997; O’Reilly and Fagan, 1998).

While some factors, like gender and occupational class, are clearly important in any analysis of the quality of part-time work, defining a set of more detailed indicators quickly grows into a more complex task (Warren and Lyonette, 2018). A central aspect of a job is, of course, what it pays, but the quality of a job also includes dimensions like job security, autonomy, promotions, training, predictability and working time – both with regard to the hours and to the timing of these hours (Kalleberg, 2011; Carre et al, 2012; Gallie, 2013; Green et al, 2015). In their review of the literature about quality part-time work, Lyonette et al (2010) suggest a revised definition of the concept. Their starting point is very similar to the basic principles of the ILO Part-Time Work Convention (No. 175) and the EU directive: quality part-time (p.7) jobs provide the same (pro-rata) terms and conditions, development, and progression opportunities as comparable full-time jobs. Moreover, quality part-time jobs enable the job-holder to maintain or enhance their skills, to achieve an acceptable work–life balance and to increase the number of working hours if desirable for the worker and feasible for the employer (Lyonette et al, 2010).

To understand how ‘good’ and ‘bad’ part-time work is regulated, practised, rationalised and experienced by workers and employers, more studies are needed. Several researchers have pointed out how it can be misleading to categorise the quality of part-time jobs (and full-time jobs) as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’ (see, eg, Sengupta et al, 2009; Kalleberg, 2011; Vidal, 2013; Warren and Lyonette, 2018). More often, they are better described in terms of degrees. In this book, we return to the core issue of how, but also to what degree, the working conditions of part-timers vary within different regulatory contexts.

While part-time work is a voluntary and good alternative for some, it is involuntary and, in this respect, bad for others. Combined with the concern that part-time workers are also more exposed to poor working conditions and less social protection than full-time workers, this duality has inspired a debate on the mobility of part-time workers (see, eg, Nätti, 1995; O’Reilly and Bothfeld, 2002; Böheim and Taylor, 2004; Gash, 2008; Nergaard, 2010; Kitterød et al, 2013). The question of part-time workers’ mobility relates to a larger debate in labour market studies on the rigidity of ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ labour markets. The gravity of being an ‘outsider’ will depend on its permanency. If part-time work is transitory and followed by full-time work and better working conditions, the consequences for the individual will be less pronounced than if part-time work is permanent or followed by unemployment. Hence, it is important to explore how the mobility patterns among part-time workers relate to precarious or marginalised work and its associated insecurities. Is part-time work a ‘stepping stone’ into full-time work and better working conditions, or is part-time work an ‘end station’ instead, locking workers into bad jobs?

Existing studies show that there are considerable country differences in transition patterns among part-time workers (for an overview, see Fagan et al, 2014). The Nordic countries, for example, have comparatively high levels of transfer from part-time to full-time work (Nergaard, 2010), while only a very small share (of women) in Britain and Germany were able to use part-time work as a stepping stone into full-time work (O’Reilly and Bothfeld, 2002). In general, women and workers with limited education are less likely to move from part-time to full-time positions than men and workers with higher education (p.8) (Fagan et al, 2014). There is less knowledge of the transfers between working-time statuses among migrants – a category of workers who are growing in number across Europe and who are particularly exposed to bad jobs with poor working conditions (see, eg, Emmenegger et al, 2012). This stands out as an important question as migrants tend to be over-represented in part-time positions and more often work part-time involuntarily than natives do (Rubin et al, 2008; OECD, 2010).

Work–life balance, gender and part-time work

Part-time work is often seen, both in politics and in the research literature, as a key strategy to achieve a better work–life balance (O’Reilly and Fagan, 1998; see also the EU Part-Time Work Directive). As a policy issue, ‘work–life balance’ seems to pertain almost exclusively to women, and to mothers in particular. It is less commonly suggested that men should achieve a better work–life balance through part-time work.

The perception of part-time work and its role in facilitating a better work–life balance for women varies across countries. In the Nordic countries, part-time work became a major strategy to combine paid work and care for women who entered the labour market in large numbers during the 1970s and 1980s. Many found work in the expanding public sector, where high-quality part-time work was provided. The long-standing provision of equal rights is seen as a result of the large-scale feminisation of the workforce at a comparably early stage (see, eg, Nicolaisen, 2011; Ellingsæter and Jensen, 2019). Hence, a large-scale feminisation of the workforce can have an independent effect on regulations, although this, of course, depends on the country-specific context (Ellingsæter and Leira, 2006). This argument prompts the question of how new work–life balance policies may influence the quality of part-time work, in particular, its gendered aspects.

Whether policy initiatives to increase female labour market participation are effective depends not only on the existence of a policy to reconcile work and family, but also on the quality of supporting institutions like parental leave and publicly provided childcare. How part-time work is viewed by employers and society in general also matters. Moreover, the gendered division of paid and unpaid work is deeply rooted in national cultures and traditions in ways that are partly, but not fully, captured by studies of formal regulations and institutions (Pfau-Effinger, 2012). Nation-specific gender cultures may influence individual, as well as collective, practices. An important question is therefore how country-specific cultures, institutions and practices (p.9) influence the labour market participation of different categories of female workers. In this book, contributions from different countries examine women’s and men’s labour market participation against the backdrop of work–life balance policies and regulations (see, eg, Chapters 2, 3, 11 and 12). This will inform a discussion of the effects of work–life balance policies on women’s labour market participation and work quality.

A typology of part-time work

Part-time work varies along two important dimensions: its quality and its voluntariness. The quality of part-time work in terms of working conditions and social protection varies between countries with different institutional structures, but also within countries, between sectors and occupations. More specifically, the quality of part-time work may differ from full-time work in terms of average hourly earnings, job security, health risks, opportunities for training or promotion, scheduling patterns, and the predictability of work and leisure. In addition, even if part-time workers have working conditions equal to those of full-timers, less time in employment may result in reduced access to unemployment benefits should they become unemployed, and to old-age or health-related pensions or other contribution-based benefits. Of course, full-time jobs also vary in quality and may provide low job security, low wages, limited fringe benefits, limited influence over one’s own work activities and little opportunity for the flexibility needed to manage non-work issues (see, eg, Kalleberg, 2011: 7–10). That said, part-time work merits its own discussion as many part-time jobs are still of a poorer quality than full-time jobs (Fagan et al, 2014). In practice, it is difficult to draw a sharp line between good and bad part-time work,3 or between labour market insiders and outsiders more generally. Some workers are in between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ – they enjoy some, but not all, of the benefits associated with a standard employment relationship. Oorschot and Chung (2015) argue that the vulnerability of workers situated in this intermediary labour market is not necessarily related to their employment contract, but related to their pay, income and skill levels, as well as to social security benefits stemming from employment.

A second dimension central to the evaluation of part-time work is its voluntariness. Alongside temporary work, involuntary part-time work is a core indicator of being a labour market outsider (Kalleberg, 2000; Vosko, 2010; Emmenegger et al, 2012). The distinction between voluntary and involuntary part-time work has been at the heart of (p.10) debates on part-time work in general (and female part-time work in particular) for years. While some workers clearly state that they would like to work more hours, others accept part-time jobs even if they are of poor quality. Why? Hakim (2000) argues in her ‘preference theory’ that some women choose part-time jobs – sometimes of poor quality – because they are family-oriented rather than work-oriented. According to Hakim, women in modern, prosperous societies are increasingly able to follow their preferences, and to manoeuvre within or around the structural constraints and opportunities that surround them. This perspective has spurred extensive debate on the relative importance of individual preferences and structural constraints (see, eg, Crompton and Harris, 1998; Hakim, 2006; Halrynjo and Lyng, 2009). How much room is there for individual choice regarding working time? For our purposes, it is sufficient to conclude that part-time work can, indeed, be both voluntary and involuntary but that the lines between the two are sometimes hazy and even changeable (Tomlinson, 2006).

Inspired and informed by the contributions to this volume and the general debates on part-time workers as labour market insiders or outsiders, we outline a typology of part-time workers. This typology has not been the point of departure for the contributing authors, but gradually developed as a result of the insights and perspectives that they provided. We base the typology on the two dimensions discussed earlier: (1) the quality of working conditions and social protection associated with the job; and (2) if working less than full-time is voluntary or not.

Part-time work can be attractive for people who give priority to some other non-labour market activity, for example, mothers, students and pensioners (Blossfeld and Hakim, 1997). Workers who have voluntarily taken part-time positions can have access to working conditions and social protection of varying quality. These variations are not easy to capture if we restrict our perspective to either ‘good’ or ‘bad’. We will argue that there is also a middle category with a mix of good and bad. Consequently, we differentiate between good, mixed or bad working conditions and social protection. Along the dimension of voluntary part-time work, we suggest a division between workers who are (1) equalised, (2) semi-secured and (3) transitionals. Among workers who find themselves involuntarily in a part-time position, we suggest a division between workers who are (4) underemployed, (5) precarious and (6) marginalised (see Table 1.1). We should hasten to add that all involuntary part-timers are, of course, underemployed. The argument here is that there is a difference between the three groups in their access to good working conditions and social protection. (p.11)

Table 1.1: A typology of part-time work and part-time workers

Working conditions and social protection

Good

Mixed

Bad

Voluntary

1. Equalised

2. Semi-secured

3. Transitionals

Involuntary

4. Underemployed

5. Precarious

6. Marginalised

Equalised part-time workers work part-time on a voluntary basis and enjoy similar working conditions and social rights to those of comparable full-timers. The exception is entitlements earned, like pension benefits and unemployment benefits. Employers can be willing to create so-called retention part-time jobs to motivate and retain valued employees (Tilly, 1996; Webber and Williams, 2008). Typical examples are highly educated women who prefer part-time work when they become mothers, or senior workers with valuable competence who are approaching retirement. The employees that fill these jobs are likely to be ‘permanent’ rather than temporary workers. Although part-time work can have negative career consequences and long-term consequences for pension benefits, these workers tend to have a financial situation that allows them to earn a reduced income and a competence to offer the employer that enables them to influence the length and the organisation of their working time. They will also typically be able to re-enter a full-time position at relatively short notice. In the Norwegian health-care sector, employers tend to offer equalised part-time jobs to occupational groups who are in demand (trained nurses), but actively avoid providing these to low-skilled and more readily available workers (auxiliary nurses, nurse assistants) (see Chapter 4). In the US, however, retention part-time jobs are fewer than normally assumed and men are more likely than women to have these types of part-time jobs (see Chapter 8).

Semi-secured part-time workers work part-time on a voluntary basis but have poorer working conditions, less influence on working time organisation and less social rights than full-time workers. A possible example of a semi-secured part-timer would be a secondary earner who chooses part-time work to achieve a good work–life balance but is not able to secure or to negotiate the good working conditions that are available for equalised part-time workers with a stronger bargaining position in relation to their employer. In terms of social protection, the position of semi-secured part-time workers will vary between countries and welfare regimes, depending on how closely knit social protection is to the standard employment relationship and to the family structure. Blossfeld and Hakim (1997) pointed out that (p.12) many part-time workers, especially women, enjoy better economic conditions and social protection than their position on the labour market indicates because they are protected financially through their families. Emmenegger et al (2012: 306), however, argue that, over time, women have become less protected through their families and derived benefits than they were in the industrial age, especially in corporatist conservative welfare systems, because policymakers do not adjust policies to compensate new groups who become exposed to precarious conditions. In other words, ‘semi-secured women’ may have become more exposed over time, as is illustrated in the contribution from South Korea (see Chapter 12). Women have partly taken up part-time work as a response to policies designed to combat unemployment, economic downturns and declining fertility rates, but they risk ending up in a semi-secure position compared to full-timers because their type of employment provides inferior wages and social security.

Transitionals work part-time voluntarily but have ‘bad’ working conditions compared to full-time workers. Typical examples of transitionals are students who take up a part-time job to supplement student loans, or young people who work for a limited period after they have finished their obligatory schooling to consider what path to follow in life. These jobs will often be characterised by short and unpredictable hours of work, work outside ‘normal’ hours, and limited entitlement earnings with regard to social rights. Also, as illustrated in the case of the Danish service industries (see Chapter 6), young workers in these industries may have lower hourly wages compared to older workers. Many of these young workers are students and when they take on bad jobs in a transitional phase, they are not what we normally associate with precarious or marginalised workers. That said, there is still the issue of how employers’ access to transitionals may influence the working conditions of employees who are less mobile. There is also the question of the transitionals’ actual ability to move on, either to further education or to other types of jobs. Private services like retail, industrial cleaning or hotels and restaurants will typically contain many transitionals who cater to employers’ need for flexibility. For workers who are, in fact, not heading elsewhere, employers’ access to transitionals may ‘tip the balance’ in their disfavour in terms of negotiating better working conditions.

The underemployed part-timers have the same working conditions and social protection as comparable full-time workers but would like to work more hours. One example is a worker who is situated in the ‘primary’ labour market with good working conditions and social protection, has the role of the household main breadwinner, and is (p.13) forced to accept a part-time position during a period of economic recession. Reduced working time in this category can take several forms. In other cases, workers may be forced to accept part-time employment through various forms of work sharing or work rotation schemes during temporary layoffs. These are ways for employers to increase flexibility and reduce costs without having to fire core staff during times of economic recession (Crimmann et al, 2010; Olberg, 2015). Another category of workers who are underemployed according to the definition used here are those who cannot manage a full-time position because of their health, the particular job requirements or their family situation. These workers are not classified as underemployed in statistical terms because they are unable to accept full-time work even if it was offered. Of course, this particular form of involuntary part-time work can be present within our typology among the underemployed, the precarious and the marginalised part-time workers. Among workers in this category, we might find single parents in particular, but also employees in the health-care sector who struggle to combine (full-time) shift work with care responsibilities (see Chapter 4). The share of female underemployed part-timers will also vary substantially between countries, based on the work–family policies that may – or may not – be in place.

There may also be a more precarious category of involuntary part-time workers where the status is more mixed in terms of working conditions and social protection, and whose options to achieve a full-time position are more uncertain. Precarious part-time workers are typically in an intermediary position. They want to work more hours and lack access to some of the benefits enjoyed by full-time workers, but they are not (yet) permanently positioned in poor conditions. They are, however, ‘at risk’. A factor that may influence the size and magnitude of this part-time group is the presence and intensity of activation and workfare policies. The obligation to take any available job offer as a way out of unemployment may normalise non-standard forms of employment (Rubery et al, 2018). An example of this is the German ‘Minijobs’ that are discussed in Chapter 10. Perhaps the most central question related to the future prospects of precarious part-timers is their mobility from ‘precarious part-time work’ into a preferably ‘good’ full-time position. The question of whether involuntary part-time work is likely to be followed by an opportunity to move on to a better position in the labour market, or if part-time work is, in fact, more of a trap, is debated and will most certainly vary across countries and regime types (see, eg, O’Reilly and Bothfeld, 2002; Gash, 2008; Kitterød et al, 2013).

(p.14) The final category – marginalised part-time workers – work part-time involuntarily and their social protection and working conditions are poor compared to most full-time workers. Moreover, their prospects for seeing improvements are low. They are more likely to move between marginalised jobs, or between marginalised jobs and unemployment, than to experience upwards mobility in working conditions, social protection and working time. This distinguishes the marginalised from the transitionals, who accept poor working conditions and limited social protection because they are heading elsewhere – presumably into jobs with better working conditions and more extensive social protection. An example of a part-time position with a high risk of marginalisation is the so-called ‘zero hours’ contract, where employers take workers on without guaranteeing any specific amount of work (see, eg, Broughton et al, 2016). Workers on such contracts have very low predictability in working-time organisation, number of hours of actual work and income level. This has become a topic of interest in, for example, the UK and Ireland, where concerns have been raised both about the use of ‘exclusivity clauses’ prohibiting workers from working for other employers and about a lack of transparency in the contracts.4 Among the marginalised part-timers, we will typically find workers with low education in general and migrants with low education in particular. Employers have few incentives to offer them better contracts with longer hours because they are considered easy to replace. Migrants are in a particularly challenging situation as the judicial terms regulating both the right to work and the conditions to permanently reside in various host countries will further influence their ability to move out of precarious or marginalised positions.

The delineation between precarious and marginalised part-timers can be hazy, as can the borders between several of the other types of part-time work that we have outlined here. Workers will move between different types of part-time work of varying quality, as well as between part- and full-time work, or in and out of employment. Furthermore, while gender, age, education, occupational class, migration status and health will be important dimensions to consider in empirical investigations of the different forms of part-time work, the position of part-time workers will inevitably be closely related to factors such as economic fluctuations, national-level regulations and workplace practices. Last but not least, the empirical measurement of job quality and social rights – and their relative importance – deserves dedicated attention.

Across countries, the relevance of the six part-time categories will vary both in terms of their size and of the characteristics of their (p.15) ‘members’. Some countries provide better protection to those who are positioned at the margins of the labour market (Esping-Andersen, 1990, 2009; Lewis, 1992; Soskice and Hall, 2001). In regimes where central aspects of social protection are left to employers, and where the responsibilities of employers are gradually being deregulated, workers will be more exposed. For example, on average, marginalised part-time workers in the Scandinavian countries will be fewer and better off in terms of social protection than marginalised workers in countries of a liberal bent. Although countries are exposed to similar types of change, such as fiercer international competition, increased migration and a growing service sector, their responses will often be influenced by the original and unique identity of the country’s national institutions. Examples of these are labour law and collective bargaining systems, the strength and priorities of trade unions, and the coverage and quality of care institutions (Traxler, 2003; Pfau-Effinger, 2012). The characteristics of labour market institutions, as well as gender cultures and family models, influence both the transformative capacity of policy, the insider–outsider divide in the labour market and the consequences of policy for people.

Part-time work across time and countries

The development of part-time work has been both suppressed and encouraged by political as well as cultural contexts. As the chapters in this book show, this has resulted in heterogeneous patterns of part-time employment across countries in terms of its scope, its voluntariness and its quality. Furthermore, these heterogenous patterns of part-time employment are still present in much the same way as before, although it has become more widespread in some OECD countries and less so in others (see Figures 1.1a and 1.1b).5

The Nordic countries are marked by high female labour market participation, but also by relatively high female part-time employment rates. This pattern is often explained with reference to the specific political and institutional development in social-democratic welfare state regimes. From the 1970s, and as women entered the labour market in increasing numbers, legislation and services were introduced to increase the employment of women and to reduce their economic dependence on a husband. Also, part-time work became a well-regulated employment category, showing few of the signs of marginal employment that would develop in other regimes (Ellingsæter, 2017). This does not preclude variations within the region. The part-time levels are currently well above the OECD average in Denmark (22%) (p.16) and Norway (19%), but significantly lower in Sweden and Finland (both 14%).

Other countries in Northern Europe have quite different levels of both female employment and part-time work. The Netherlands still holds the ‘record’, with a part-time share of 60% among women and 19% among men. The part-time share is also well above the OECD average among both women and men in Switzerland, the UK and Ireland. Countries that belong to liberal or corporate regimes have been far less committed than the Nordic countries to provide and design welfare benefits in a way that supports dual-earner families. In liberal regimes, such as the UK, but also Australia and the US, supporting the reconciliation of work and family, and facilitating dual-earner or dual-carer families, are not seen as state responsibilities. In corporate regimes like Austria, France and Germany, the state has been more strongly committed to preserving the traditional male breadwinner model, with family benefits designed to support motherhood and protect women through the husband and the family (Esping-Andersen, 1990, 2009).

In Southern Europe, both female participation in paid employment and the share of part-time work are lower than in Northern Europe. This is the result of a political and cultural context that favours the male breadwinner model, but also of a ‘lagged position’ in the transition from an agricultural to an industrial economy. This combination slowed down the development of labour market structures, family systems and welfare policy that could otherwise have shifted female employment patterns in new directions and increased the level of (female) part-time employment (Blossfeld and Hakim, 1997; O’Reilly and Fagan, 1998). Nevertheless, there are also variations within Southern European countries in terms of the development and levels of part-time work. While Portugal and Greece have part-time levels of 9% and 11%, respectively, the corresponding numbers in Spain and Italy are 14% and 19%.

In the former socialist countries of Central and Eastern Europe, employment was – and still is – typically full-time for both women and men. For example, in Russia and Hungary, the share of part-time workers is 3% among men and 5% among women. Apart from a period of economic crisis in the 1990s, South Korea has experienced rapid industrialisation and economic growth since the Second World War (Kalleberg and Hewison, 2013). In contrast to Japan – a country with a similar cultural context, economic development and levels of female employment – South Korea has part-time employment rates well below the OECD average (see Table 1.2). (p.17)

Table 1.2: Key employment indicators 2016

Total PT as % of total employed

Female PT

Male PT

Total labour force participation rate

Female LFPR

Male LFPR

Netherlands

38

60

19

64

59

70

Switzerland

27

45

11

69

63

74

Australia

26

38

15

65

59

71

UK

24

37

12

63

58

69

Japan

23

37

12

60

50

70

Ireland

23

35

12

60

53

68

Germany

22

37

9

61

56

66

Denmark

22

27

17

64

59

68

New Zealand

21

32

12

70

65

75

Austria

21

35

9

61

56

67

Canada

19

26

13

66

61

70

Norway

19

27

12

71

68

73

Italy

19

33

8

49

40

59

Belgium

18

30

7

53

48

59

Iceland

18

25

12

84

80

87

OECD average

17

26

9

60

52

69

France

14

22

7

56

52

61

Spain

14

22

7

59

54

65

Finland

14

18

11

66

63

68

Sweden

14

18

10

72

70

74

Luxembourg

14

24

5

59

54

64

Cyprus

11

14

8

62

57

67

Greece

11

16

7

52

45

60

South Korea

11

16

7

63

52

74

Turkey

9

18

6

52

32

72

Portugal

9

11

7

58

54

64

Estonia

9

12

6

71

66

76

Slovenia

8

11

5

57

52

61

Latvia

7

10

5

60

55

67

Lithuania

7

9

4

60

56

66

Poland

6

9

3

56

48

65

Slovak Republic

6

8

4

60

53

68

Czech Republic

5

8

3

60

52

68

Croatia

5

6

4

51

45

58

Russian Federation

4

6

3

70

64

76

Hungary

4

5

3

61

54

69

Romania

4

5

3

54

44

64

Notes: Part-time (OECD ‘common definition’) = less than 30 weekly hours of work in main job. PT = part-time; LFPR = labour force participation rate.

Source: OECD Labour Force Statistics

(p.18) During the 1980s and 1990s, there was a strong growth in part-time employment in most OECD countries. This overall growth continued, or at least did not reverse, in the years preceding the financial crisis in 2007 and in the first years following the economic downturn (OECD, 2010). In Figures 1.1a and 1.1b, we extend the period of investigation and compare the part-time shares among women and men between 2000 and 2016.

In 2016, the average rate of part-time work for women in OECD countries was 26%. The levels ranged from 60% in the Netherlands and 45% in Switzerland, to around one third in Austria, Italy and Ireland, and 6% or less in the Russian Federation, Hungary and Romania. There is no clear-cut relation between the national level of part-time employment and the rise or fall of part-time rates over the last 15 years (see Figure 1.1a). Among the countries with the most notable increases, we find Austria, Italy and Japan, with relatively high levels of part-time employment, but also countries with lower levels like Greece and South Korea. The most notable decreases in female part-time work have been seen in Iceland, Poland, Norway and Belgium.

For men, the part-time levels in 2016 are far lower, with an OECD average of 9%. The Netherlands has the highest level of male part-time work (19%) but Denmark and Australia have also reached levels of 17% and 15%, respectively. The Russian Federation, Hungary and Romania are at the other end of the scale, with male part-time levels of 3%. Between 2000 and 2016, the overall share of men in part-time work increased in almost all OECD countries, but most notably in Denmark, Austria and the Netherlands. Denmark and the Netherlands already had comparatively high levels of men in part-time work, while Austria, Spain and Greece started at a far lower level.

Involuntary part-time work

Different demographic groups vary in their risk of working part-time involuntarily. Men who work part-time are more likely than women to do so involuntarily, older workers less so than younger workers and migrants more so than natives (OECD, 2010: 214). On average, in OECD countries, 16.3% of the part-time workers are involuntary and the share of involuntary part-time workers increased substantially between 2007 and 2016 (see Figure 1.2). There is, however, considerable variation between the countries contributing to this average. In the Southern European countries of Greece, Spain and Italy, who were hit hard by the economic crisis, more than half of the part-time workers would like to work longer hours and the

(p.19)

Introduction

Figure 1.1a: Female part-time workers as a percentage of total employed in 2016, and change in share of female part-time workers between 2000 and 2016, by country, organised by percent change

Source: OECD stat 2016

(p.20)

Introduction

Figure 1.1b: Male part-time workers as a percentage of total employed in 2016, and change in share of male part-time workers between 2000 and 2016, by country, organised by percent change

Source: OECD stat 2016

(p.21) share of involuntary part-time work increased substantially between 2007 and 2016. At the other end of the scale, we find countries like Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, the US and Norway, all with reported levels of involuntary part-time work well below 15% of all part-time employees and either no increase in involuntary part-time work since 2007 or only a slight increase. In some countries, there has been a decline in the share of involuntary part-time work – most notably, in Germany, Sweden and Belgium.

It should be noted that statistical data have their obvious limitations in measuring involuntary part-time work. The distinction between voluntary and involuntary part-time work in Figure 1.2 is based on labour force surveys, where workers state their reasons for working part-time. In most countries, only those who answer that they have not been able to find a full-time job are categorised as involuntary part-time workers. However, the decision to work part-time may also be driven by external constraints, such as care responsibilities, a lack of affordable or good quality childcare facilities, or an inability to work longer hours due to health problems and/ or the particular working conditions of the job at hand. The level of involuntary part-time work reported in Figure 1.2 will therefore most likely underestimate the actual level of involuntary part-time work, particularly among women (see also Chapter 4).

The structure of the book

This book will demonstrate that part-time workers are dissimilar in terms of their motivations to work part-time, their working conditions, their access to social protection and their prospects of transitioning from a position as a labour market outsider to a position as a labour market insider. The contributions look at the regulations and the quality of part-time work in a wide range of countries and contexts, as well as from a variety of analytical perspectives and methodological approaches. The book is organised thematically into three parts. The contributions in Part One focus on the institutional and organisational regulations of part-time work, and shed light on the influence of politics, institutions and organisations. The authors discuss the effectiveness of regulations at different levels (supranational, national and workplace), as well as the consequences for part-time workers. How relevant are supranational attempts to regulate part-time work at the national level? How has the de-standardisation of labour contracts in Italy and Spain influenced women’s opportunity to use part-time work as a way to ease work–family conflicts? Do national ambitions to reduce involuntary

(p.22)

Introduction

Figure 1.2: Involuntary part-time work as a percentage of total part-time employees in 2016, and change from 2007 to 2016, by country, organised by level of involuntary part-time work in 2016

Source: OECD stat 2016

(p.23) part-time work through ‘hard regulations’ in Norway trickle all the way down and create new workplace practices?

In Chapter 2, Sonja Bekker and Dalila Ghailani give an overview of EU norms and instruments and set the issue of part-time work in a wider context of gender equality. Their examination of recommendations from the European Commission to six member states shows that part-time work is not seen as a challenge or stand-alone issue in any of the cases. They argue that the EU Part-Time Work Directive is primarily an employment policy tool. The aim of the directive is to improve the working conditions of part-time workers, but it simultaneously legitimises the growth of this form of employment. This is problematic given that women face a much higher risk of having to deal with the structural and long-term disadvantages of part-time work, such as career penalties and lower pension entitlements.

In Chapter 3, Lara Maestripieri and Margarita León discuss the effects of employment de-standardisation trends on gender equality and living conditions in Italy and Spain. These Southern European countries have the highest share of involuntary part-time work in Europe and the element of involuntariness has increased during the economic crisis. The growth of non-standard contracts, including part-time, is seen as a consequence of labour market rigidity (eg strong restrictions on dismissals for permanent workers), and the authors argue that part-time employment appears to be a strategy to facilitate labour market flexibility, rather than work–family balance. Using an intersectional analytical approach, they show that the distribution of non-standard and involuntary part-time work is unequal among different groups of women, impacting the young (Italy) and the low educated (Spain) in particular.

In Chapter 4, Hanne Cecilie Kavli, Heidi Nicolaisen and Sissel C. Trygstad use the Norwegian health-care sector to discuss the possibilities, but also the limitations, of national legislation to combat involuntary part-time work. The workplace ‘translation’ of the amendments to the labour law had unintended consequences. While the amendments helped the most qualified part-timers to secure more hours, workers with less education became more exposed as employers adapted opportunistically to maintain their flexibility in staffing and scheduling. While the policy ambition was to reduce the gap between labour market ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’, this case shows that the most exposed workers still struggle to escape ‘bad’ part-time contracts.

Part Two, on the quality of working conditions and part-time work, addresses the consequences of part-time employment for the wider set of working conditions. When does part-time employment ‘spill (p.24) over’ to other aspects of the employment relationship, and add to the disadvantages of part-time jobs? Under what circumstances is it a good way to facilitate a better work–life balance? In what parts of the labour market are part-time workers particularly exposed to poor working conditions and who among them are able to move on to better positions?

In Chapter 5, Heejung Chung examines part-time working women’s access to schedule control, flexible start and finish times, and time off work to tend to personal issues. Based on data from 30 European countries, she shows that part-time work and other types of flexible working-time arrangements tend to complement rather than substitute for each other. In contrast to expectations, part-time working women were not worse off than full-timers in their access to family-friendly, flexible working arrangements. However, she also suggests that the real dualisation patterns may be found in the outcomes of flexible working, rather than in the access to such.

One such outcome is pay, a topic addressed in Chapter 6. Within the context of the private, low-wage sector in Denmark, Trine P. Larsen, Anna Ilsøe and Jonas Felbo-Kolding explore how institutional frameworks for working-time and wage regulation affect the prevalence of marginal part-time work and increased polarisation. While marginal part-time contracts in some instances facilitate a win–win situation for the employer and employees (mainly students), providing flexibility to both parties, the same types of contracts make it difficult to secure a living wage and therefore contribute to the marginalisation of young people (who are not students) and migrants, who may be more permanently positioned in these sectors and jobs.

Many migrants enter the labour market through part-time, low-paid, low-skilled jobs in the secondary sector (Rubin et al, 2008; Vosko, 2010; Standing, 2011; Emmenegger et al, 2012). In Chapter 7, Hanne Cecilie Kavli and Roy A. Nielsen use longitudinal register data from Norway to describe mobility patterns from part-time work among immigrants and non-immigrants. They find both upwards and downwards mobility from part-time work, but more so among immigrants than among non-immigrants. While the majority of ‘movers’ among both men and women, as well as immigrants and non-immigrants, increase their working time, immigrants are also more at risk of labour market exits. Employees in short part-time positions still face higher risks of labour market exits, and immigrants more so than non-immigrants.

The Norwegian institutional configuration is quite protective of part-time workers. If we move on to part-time work in one of (p.25) the liberal regimes, the picture is different. In Chapter 8, Kenneth Hudson and Arne L. Kalleberg discuss part-time work in the US, a country where part-time work is both less common and less protected. They find that the level of part-time work has varied in response to fluctuations in the labour market since the 1980s and hence adjust the claims in the popular media that America is becoming a ‘part-time nation’. An indicator based on part-time workers’ pay level, access to health insurance, pension benefits and schedule flexibility is used to measure if part-time jobs are ‘good’ or ‘bad’. They show that part-time workers are more likely to have bad jobs, and they are more apt to live in families that are poor. Furthermore although some part-time jobs offer health and retirement benefits, most do not. Black people, Hispanic non-citizens and persons of mixed-race descent are more likely to work part-time, and part-timers are more likely to have jobs in the secondary labour market.

Returning to the Nordic welfare and labour regimes in Chapter 9, Jouko Nätti and Kristine Nergaard study the characteristics of part-time workers and their mobility between different working-time categories over the last two decades in the Nordic countries. They show that there are pockets of precariousness among Nordic part-time workers that might moderate the overall impression of the low risks and high quality that have been associated with part-time work in this region. Furthermore, part-time work is characterised by high stability, especially in Norway. Hence, the results do not give support for the increased polarisation of part-time work.

Part-time work is often framed as a way to facilitate employment among women. In Part Three, on work–life balance, gender and part-time work, the focus is on the link between work–family balance policies, part-time work and gender equality. The key question is if and how national work–family reconciliation policies affect women’s, and particularly mothers’, labour market participation and conditions of work.

In Chapter 10, Birgit Pfau-Effinger and Thordis Reimer analyse how demand- and supply-side factors interact with welfare state institutions and politics in the production of marginal employment for women in part-time jobs in Germany. The so-called ‘Minijobs’ have created favourable opportunities for firms to employ workers in marginal jobs. Minijobs were originally introduced in the 1960s to provide opportunities for housewives to earn some additional income for the household. The Red–Green Coalition government reintroduced the ‘Minijob’ legislation in 2000 to increase labour market flexibility and employment. Compared to regular part-time (p.26) and full-time employment, Minijobs are marked by substantially lower wages and higher social security and poverty risks. The authors find that Minijobs contribute to the persistence of traditional structures of gender inequality in Germany and also increase inequality in the labour market.

In Chapter 11, Mara A. Yerkes and Belinda Hewitt compare the Netherlands, a country with a high protection of part-time workers, with Australia, where protection is minimal. Their contribution illustrates that while mothers in both countries use part-time work as a strategy to combine work and care, the conditions under which these strategies are used differ significantly. Their findings suggest that inequality exists between part-time workers and full-time workers in both countries, as well as among part-timers, even in the Netherlands, where part-time work is well protected.

Women’s participation in the labour market has also increased rapidly outside of Europe and modified former gender-traditional patterns of labour market participation. In Chapter 12, Min Young Song and Sophia Seung-yoon Lee examine the effect of government attempts to increase women’s labour market participation in South Korea. They argue that a series of policies intended to help families to increase their income, on the one hand, and work–life balance for married women, on the other, have led to a rise in part-time employment opportunities for women. However, most part-time jobs have been created on the basis of temporary contracts where the hourly wage levels are lower than for full-time workers, and hence place women on the outskirts of the labour market.

In Chapter 13, Hanne Cecilie Kavli and Heidi Nicolaisen summarise the volume’s main findings. They return to the question of the dualisation of part-time work and discuss the capability of policy and regulations to influence the divide between good and bad part-time jobs, as well as labour market insiders and outsiders. The future prospects of part-time work and part-time workers depend on numerous factors. Some are well within the reach of political action – others are not. In our opinion, a good way forward is to apply a more nuanced perspective of what part-time work entails for different categories of workers and within different institutional and cultural contexts. The typology presented in this introductory chapter can provide a framework for further analyses of part-time work and part-time workers within different institutional contexts.

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Notes:

(1) From the Preamble, Part-Time Work Convention 1994 (No. 175).

(p.27) (2) Part-Time Work Directive, 97/81/EC.

(3) The concepts of ‘good/mixed/bad’ part-time work can be seen as somewhat normative, representing an employee perspective. However, their content corresponds with the ‘high/low’ protection of workers through regulations and is well established in the literature about differences between different categories of workers in the labour market (see, eg, Kalleberg, 2011).

(5) International comparisons of working time are seldom straightforward. The OECD defines part-time work as working less than 30 hours per week, but many countries have their own legal thresholds defining part-time work. In labour surveys, it is left up to the workers to describe their position as either part- or full-time.