The Part-Time Pay Penalty
In 2003, women working part-time in the UK earned, on average, 22% less than women working full-time. Compared to women who work FT, PT women are more likely to have low levels of education, to be in a couple, to have young and numerous children, to work in small establishments in distribution, hotels and restaurants and in low-level occupations. Taking account of these differences, the PT penalty for identical women doing the same job is estimated to be about 10% if one does not take account of differences in the occupations of FT and PT women and 3% if one does. The occupational segregation of PT and FT women can explain most of the aggregate PT pay penalty. In particular, women who move from FT to PT work are much more likely to change employer and/or occupation than those who maintain their hours status. And, when making this transition, they tend to make a downward occupational move, evidence that many women working PT are not making full use of their skills and experience. Women working PT in the other EU countries have similar problems to the UK but the UK has the highest PT pay penalty and one of the worst problems in enabling women to move between FT and PT work without occupational demotions. At the same time, PT work in the UK carries a higher job satisfaction premium (or a lower job satisfaction penalty) than in most other countries. Policy initiatives in recent years like the National Minimum Wage, the Part-Time Workers Regulations and the Right to Request Flexible Working appear to have had little impact on the PT pay penalty as yet although it is too early to make a definitive assessment of the full impact of some of these regulations. The most effective way to reduce the PT pay penalty would be to strengthen rights for women to move between FT and PT work without losing their current job.
March 2005 Paper Number CEPDP0679
This CEP discussion paper is published under the centre's Labour markets programme.