Civil servants highlight part-time penalty

Over a third of part-time workers in the civil service say they are working over their hours regularly and that working part time has harmed their career progression.

Part Time or Full Time writing on block with clock on top


More than a third of part-time women working in the civil service feel flexible working has had a negative impact on their career progression, according to new research from the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London.

The research, commissioned by the FDA union, found that more than 35% of part-time women felt that flexible working had had a negative impact on their career progression and performance ratings, with over 35% of part-time women also feeling they had to put in more hours to show their commitment.

Nearly 50% of respondents felt that working part time means their work is more likely to spill over into other areas of their life, while almost 20% of respondents who felt that flexible working was not encouraged at their grade were working an additional 10 or more hours a week.

The research was based on a survey of 1,600 civil servants.

Laura Jones, Research Associate at the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, said: “Expanding access to flexible work needs to go alongside efforts to reform workplace culture and workload allocation. As long as career success is linked to excessively long working hours then there will be hesitancy among some civil servants to make use of flexible working, and a risk that those who do, primarily women, will be penalised.”

In order to tackle these barriers and make flexible working work for everyone, the FDA is calling on all employers to:

  • Beat the stigma around flexible working.
  • Introduce a flexible working passport, allowing people to take working patterns to new roles.
  • Ensure evaluations for flexible workers – no more full-time work in part-time hours.
  • Actively support and develop staff who work flexibly, to build a pipeline of leaders who feel able to do the same.


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