Part-time employment in the public sector with particular reference to the labour force of local authorities.

  • Anne Patricia Stennett

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Knowledge of the implications of the growth of part-time employment is comparatively limited despite the fact that it represents the sole source of employment growth in Britain in recent decades. This thesis is concerned with an examination of the role of part-time employment in local government in which 2.8 million people are employed, and of whom almost one third work for less than the normal full-time working week. The research involved in-depth empirical investigation of part-time employment in five major local authorities in Britain. Attention was concentrated on analyses of the occupations, hours of work and earnings of part-time employees at the point of employment, that is at organisation and establishment levels, where manpower policy decisions are implemented. The findings of the research suggest that part-time workers, the majority of whom are females, do not constitute a marginal or second best labour supply, as some earlier observers considered. The jobs performed by part-time workers exist because of changing patterns of labour demand, notably in the services sector (both public and private). Part-time labour not only allows employers to engage workers for periods of time which are shorter than the customary full-time working week, but because of its inherent flexibility part-time employment provides employers with considerable cost advantages. Part-time workers tend to be relatively low paid as compared with full-time employees, and within local authorities this is seen to result from their concentration in low graded jobs, and from the operation of wage payment systems which provide opportunities for augmentation of pay above basic weekly rates, mainly to full-time workers. Additionally, working hours of less than sixteen per week lead to the exclusion of many part- timers from both local authority and statutory employee benefit schemes. It has been the argument of the European Commission's proposed draft Directive on Voluntary Part-time Work that the labour market treatment of part-time employees represents a form of labour market segmentation that should and can be eliminated by legislative interventions. Setting the research into the context of the debate generated by this proposal, it is concluded that it is unlikely that the cost advantages enjoyed by employers from their utilisation of part-time labour could be eroded significantly by the implementation of the draft Directive. It is further concluded that the comparatively inferior labour market treatment of part-time workers is largely the result of occupational segregation which has its origins in the prevalence of sex discrimination in employment, which other legislation has so far failed to remove or reduce substantially.
Date of Award1983
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath

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