We’re worth it and we’re worthy of recognition and progression.

“Who’s going to be Senior Manager, you?”

And thus began my first foray into part time work. I had just returned from my first maternity leave and was now part time. At that meeting I heard the resounding click of the lock to the higher floors of my career. Whilst I had returned from my rightful year away, it felt like the rest of the office still thought I was absent, that I was no longer productive. I am a “part timer”.

I should be grateful, right? I have been permitted to work part time, flexibly, in the same job with the same benefits as the “full timers”. Friends, family, acquaintances have not been so lucky. It’s so common to hear stories of those who have been pushed out of their careers due to the need to work part time for whatever reason, children, carer, sickness, etc. I should be grateful. I am grateful.

But with the move to part time comes the added pressure to show we are worthy. We push five days’ work into three to prove ourselves. We accept whatever work comes to us. We can’t complain if it’s too much because we are grateful for the opportunity to work “flexibly”. The pressure mounts. Where are we going? What are we doing this for? We want to prove ourselves worthy to a world that deems us less for reducing our hours.

Our managers could take time to think about how we can work effectively as part of a cohesive team of mixed full time and part time employees. Steps could be taken. Instead, for the majority (if we have even retained our jobs in the first place), we are an inconvenience. We’re working as hard as possible for a world that deems us less with no expectation of career progression.

We have all experienced the “full timer” that does not pull their weight. That spends two weeks on what could be completed in a few days. Why is this person more valued than the part time employee who consistently delivers? Why is the door to career progression unlocked for them? Is the fact they have full time hours in their contract so important?

Contracted hours do not tell you how hard someone works. How enthusiastic they are. Their drive and motivation.

It is such a frustrating waste to disregard what part time employees can contribute to the business. The business sees a detriment in time. It dismisses the skills a part time employee can bring to the table. Out of office priorities that the part time worker has are skills and experience they could utilise in their working role.

You see a parent (usually, let’s face it, a mother). I see someone who multi-tasks like a pro. I see someone who reads so many stories out loud that their presentation skills are now top notch. I see someone who can stay calm in stressful situations. I see someone who statistically takes fewer sick days. I see someone who is focussed, a role model. A valuable employee.

My own experience: I have needed to stay calm and focussed on two hours’ sleep in three days while sleeping in a chair next to a hospital bed so I can then ask the doctors all the important questions. How can you not think I can use those skills to remain calm and focussed at work?

That is not to say parents are better. It’s not a direct comparison and competition between “parent/carer” and “non-parent”, “part time” and “full time”. But to immediately close doors and react negatively to the need for part time hours is absolutely unfair. It is a detriment to what we can provide to the business as employees.

Part timers, we need to remember our value and contribution to the company. We’re worth it and we’re worthy of recognition and progression.

Companies, you need to acknowledge our value, provide opportunities for progression and provide the flexibility you currently advertise as a modern place of work.

Money where your mouth is springs to mind.


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