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Part-time employment in Great Britain: establishment survey data.

Part-time employment has been the major feature of employment change in Great Britain, according to a recent study.

The study uses data from the 1980 Workplace Industrial Relations Survey, which was sponsored by the Department of Employment Policy Studies Institute, and the (then) Social Science Research Council. The data set included 2,040 observations of establishments, or "places of employment at a single address or site" throughout England, Scotland, and Wales. Establishments were limited to those with 25 employees or more who worked both full time and part time. The survey involved interviews with senior managers and worker representatives (who were nominated by management respondents). Part-time workers were defined as persons who work fewer than 30 hours per week.

According to Great Britain's 1981 Census of Employment data (which are directly comparable with the data in the report), 4.5 million persons worked part-time in a work force of 21.3 million employees. The proportion of men who worked part time was 5.9 percent and women, 41.6 percent. Over the 1971-81 period, part-time employment among women increased 37.1 percent. For men, however, a 22.9-percent increase in part-time employment was offset by a 10.4-percent decline in full-time employment.

According to the Workplace Industrial Relations Survey, part-time workers accounted for 13.8 percent of total employment-87.2 percent of whom were women.

The study looks at the distribution of part-time workers by industrial sector, the characteristics of establishments that employ significant proportions of parttime workers, and distinct industrial relations patterns where part-time workers are prevalent.

Industries. Most of the part-time workers were concentrated in the nonmanufacturing sector-18 percent of the total labor force, compared with less than 7 percent in the manufacturing sector. A higher proportion of the labor force worked part time in the public sector than in the private sector. Of the 40 industries surveyed, 12 accounted for 76 percent of part-time employees: food; other textiles and leather; clothing and footwear; retail food; other retail distribution; other business services; education; medical services; hotels and pubs; miscellaneous services; insurance; and other services.

Characteristics. To closely examine the characteristics of part-time establishments, the study describe"part-time using establishments" as those that employed at least 25 part-timers who constituted at least 50 percent of the labor force in establishments with fewer than 50 employees. These characteristics were found in 445 establishments, which accounted for three-fourths of all part-time employment, and about 85 percent of these establishments were among the 12 industries which employed mostly part-timers.

Industrial relations. A higher share of the labor force tended to work part time in nonunion establishments than in unionized establishments. Compared with fulltime workers, a smaller proportion of part-timers were employed in establishments where unions were recognized. The study also found that the pay bargaining level was less important for part-time workers than for fulltimers. The pay for higher proportions of part-timers was determined by wage councils awards. In other instances, head offices determined pay levels. Moreover, part-time workers were most likely to be found in establishments with informal procedures for dealing with pay, conditions, dismissals, or individual grievances.

THE FULL REPORT is entitled, Part-time employment in Great Britain: An analysis using establishment data, research paper no. 57, by David Blanchflower and Bernard Corry (London, Research Administration, Department of Employment, 1986).
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Author:Blanchflower, David; Corry, Bernard
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:May 1, 1988
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