In 1999, the government put an end to the opt-out which meant that the EU directives on part-time work had to be implemented. The UK regulations changed which meant that part-time workers, predominantly women, had the right to equal treatment comparabl …

Samantha Ritchie

In 1999, the government put an end to the opt-out which meant that the EU directives on part-time work had to be implemented. The UK regulations changed which meant that part-time workers, predominantly women, had the right to equal treatment comparable with full-time workers from 2000. Fundamentally, it was only twelve years ago that Britain introduced these directives to change the treatment of part-time workers. But, statistics announced by the ONS this week has shown that part-time workers are still unfairly treated when it comes to pay.

On Wednesday the 21st of October it was announced by the ONS that there is a 36% pay gap between part-time and full-time workers. And the fact of the matter is that over a 30 year period these statistics have barely fallen.

Currently,in Britain, more than five million women work part-time as the majority of them are mothers who need flexible hours due to childcare, compared to 1.5 million men. The rate of pay amongst part-time workers is around £8 an hour. But, two fifths of part-time workers earn less than the living wage (£7.45 an hour). This can be put down to the fact that women tend to be clustered within the service sector, which tend to be low paid jobs. From waitresses to cleaners to retail workers these are sectors that are dominated by a female workforce.

The economic impact is apparent amongst poorer families. For example, if the woman is earning a significant lower wage than if she worked full-time, then this will have a detrimental impact on the family itself. This is when the family becomes more dependent on the state as they are struggling to make ends meet. This is where the gender pay gap is damaging for women, families and the British economy. Furthermore, if we want to look at the harsh reality of things charities are now recording that there has been a 50% increase in the demand of feeding services as families now can’t afford food. The chief executive of FareShare, Lindsay Boswell, recently stated that “people in our communities are going to bed hungry because they can’t afford to feed themselves.”

If we look at Norway where wages are high, standard of living is high and unemployment is low they do not have this problem. Less families and women depend on the state because they have a decent living wage. And this is when, I seriously question the fact that some employers highlight that they cannot afford to pay part-time workers equally to full-time workers.

For myself, these statistics not only horrify me but scary me to the fact that I am one of those statistics. I am a part-time working female, not by choice but because I cannot get full-time work in this economic climate. Does that mean that my job is less important than someone who is full-time? Do they work harder than me? In my opinion, I do not think so. Equal pay, rights and treatment among different groups in society is vital for a progressive future in Britain and around the world.


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Samantha Ritchie