Woman at desk, busy

Working part-time in the UK

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Mrs American in Britain appreciates working part-time, but not the nonsensical debate over pay differentials. She questions the campaign for 'equal opportunity' presented in the media.

I’m only working four days a week and I am enjoying my Fridays. That may change in a few months and, at this time, I’m not sure how I’ll feel about that.

I would definitely miss having an extra day off, especially to take care of business that can’t be done on the weekends. Part-time working has been much more attractive than I expected. The pay is OK. It doesn’t leave much for extras, and that may become an issue in the future. On the other hand, the decrease in stress is welcoming.

I finally had time to read part of a newspaper today (although the paper is from several days ago). It appears that the government is trying to make businesses offer their full-time positions to job sharers and part-timers. There’s been criticism that although it is good for working parents to have that flexibility, during the recession is not the time to introduce such measures. There were several points mentioned in the article that I find fault with.

Woman reading newspaper

The first one, which irritates me many times when it is mentioned, is the pay differential. I’m not a true ‘feminist’, but I don’t think it’s right that men and women are paid differently. I can understand if the pay appropriately reflects their skills or responsibilities, but studies have shown that is not the case. Some might argue that women are not put into higher positions and are fighting for more women at the top. My stance on that is ‘May the best man/woman win’ and I don’t like affirmative action just for equality – that is not true ‘equal opportunity’.

The second point about the pay differential that irritates me when it is reported, is that the journalist goes for sensationalism and does not make a good comparison. For example, was it necessary to report on the difference between a part-time working woman with a full-time working man? Why not compare part-time woman (or man) to full-time woman (or man), or full-time woman to full-time man? That would show the difference in income between working part-time vs full-time, or between a woman and man working equal hours.

And I will apologise for causing offence, but I do get annoyed when critics bring up the point of pay and promotion. I don’t know the inside track on every company, but there is a broad generalisation that women are not promoted as quickly as men. I agree that may be true. But when critics bring up the point that part-time working women are overlooked for promotions and they want laws to protect these women from discrimination, it does make my blood boil.
Woman at desk, busy

If you’re looking to work part-time, isn’t it because you want fewer hours, thus less responsibility? Perhaps it’s because you want more family time. Whatever the case, you’re looking for less stress. So, why would you want to be promoted to a higher position with more pay and more responsiblity?

If you’re expecting higher payer with higher responsibilities, and you’re willing to put more time into it, then fine. I know women who work part-time in higher positions, but they don’t work strictly 9-5. Plus, they are on committees, which meet outside of their work hours. They may have other occasional duties that require them to be present for a whole week at a time.

All fine and dandy. But if you suddenly allow someone to dictate their own hours and still expect promotion and higher pay, you are really throwing a spanner in the works.

 

Visit An American in Britain for more of Mr and Mrs American in Britain's fresh – if not always rosy – perspective on Merry Olde England and, from time to time, advice for those venturing over from across the pond. Because "let’s just say, I’ve made some mistakes along the way."

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