Part-time work

Part-time working is simply working fewer hours than a
full- time employee.  This usually means working anything less than 35 hours per week.

More than eight million people in the UK work part-time (almost a third of the workforce).  In fact, the UK has the second highest number of part-time workers in Europe, coming second only to Germany.*

Pros of working part-time

Working part-time can be a great way of balancing your work with personal commitments – in effect; you can have the best of both worlds.   It can give you time to care for children or elderly relatives while also earning a living.  However, you don’t need to be caring for other people to benefit from part-time working.  Many part-time workers use their non-working time to study, pursue hobbies or to start a new business.

Working part-time can also be a good way of easing yourself back into work if you’ve been absent for a time, perhaps due to illness or because you‘ve been raising a family. Part-time working rather than giving up work altogether can help you avoid a gap in your CV, which may be useful when it comes to job interviews.

And it can be a great way of building up your experience without committing to a job full-time.  Working part-time in a new field allows you to decide it it’s something you really want to pursue.

Cons of working part-time

However, there are some downsides. Apart from the obvious effect of reduced income (compared to full-time work), working part-time may have a negative effect on the way you are treated at work. If you’re not around all the time, your colleagues may forget to include you in important meetings or emails, so part-time workers often have to work harder at catching up on things they may have missed while they’ve been away from the workplace.

You may also find that your work may require your attention at times when you’re not supposed to be working and so it encroaches on your private time.  And part-time workers may also suffer from unrealistic expectations from their employers as to what can be achieved in fewer hours.

When is a job suitable for part-time working?

Whether or not a job is suitable for part-time working will depend on the following:

  • If there is insufficient work for a job to be carried out full-time
  • If the nature of the work lends itself to part-time hours
  • If it’s not necessary for someone to be present in the job during all working hours
  • If all the necessary work can be done during the part-time hours
  • If there is no negative effect on your co-workers if you are planning to move from full time to part-time work

How do you make it work?

The key to successful part-time working is organisation.  Part-time workers have to be extremely organised and this is one of the reasons why those working part-time are sometimes perceived as being more focussed and efficient. They have fewer hours in which to get the job done and cannot afford to spend time chatting to colleagues or focussing on non-essential things.  Good communication skills are also important.  If you’re not there all the time there’s a risk you may be left out of the loop – it’s often up to you to make sure you keep abreast of what’s happened in your absence.

More information

The following sites specialise in part-time roles:

Some of the large job sites now allow you to search for part-time jobs:

* BBC News