Status quo and opportunities in the post-corona era
In Austria, 49.6% of women (EU average: 29.5%) and only 11.6% (EU: 9.3%) of men work part-time (Statistics Austria 2021) - if the children are under 15, the part-time rate for women is a whopping 72.8%.
And even among employed women aged 25 to 49 who had no children or no younger children, the part-time rate is still 30.9%.
By law, part-time employees are on an equal footing to full-time employees in all matters of the labor law and must be included in employer benefits on a pro-rata basis according to the amount of work they perform. Part-time employees must therefore also be considered with regard to company pensions or other discretionary benefits provided by the employer.
In practice: Many women's initiatives are dedicated to the topic of women returning from maternity leave, because - very often – women, who do not return to their full-time position immediately after 3-6 months, feel professionally marginalized - and this despite the fact that even many corporations strive for a positive return and a smooth reintegration.
A study conducted by the Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) in 2013 is also worth noting: in Germany, 14.6 percent of female managers work part-time (only 1.2 percent of men), a rate that increases with the number of children and with age.
Part-time work is particularly rare at the management levels of large companies and among the self-employed.
There are also considerable sector-specific differences: in Germany, part-time managers are most frequently employed in Education, Health, and Public Administration, at 9.3 percent, while in Manufacturing, at 1.2 percent, they are the absolute exception. According to the analysis, the legal right to a part-time job does not play a significant role. Entitlements are therefore neither used nor enforced.
According to the researchers, the fact that part-time work is not very widespread among managers is primarily due to informal expectations and cultural norms.
Before the pandemic, flexibility in time and place was considered a great advantage in Austria, and this benefit was often accepted in exchange of a lower salary. And honestly, many employers were concerned that WFH would automatically mean a lower work performance.
During the pandemic, the US-career platform Blind had launched a ludicrous poll in the asking who would prefer to get a raise of U$ 30,000, or to continue to work from home in exchange. In my eyes, this is an invalid question, because after all, the market value of a job does not depend on whether I do it at home or not. Where I do my job does not change the responsibility and influence, I exercise in the job - and consequently has no relevance on my market value (as long as I stay in the same country).
Covid-19 has forced many companies to digitize their workflows and put trust in their employees, who from one day to the next had to work exclusively from home.
And it is precisely this trust, based on performance and not on presence that could be a first step toward getting part-time work back to normal.
Cawa Younosi, Group Head of People at SAP Germany with around 25,000 employees: "For most SAP employees, it doesn't matter where they work from. If the job does not absolutely require them to be present in a specific location, employees have every freedom in choosing their location."
In return, one or the other advocate of part-time work will consider using the new flexibility to increase her number of hours - after all, who says you can't write your reports in the evening?
Anyhow, the latest trend towards part—time is so strong, it cannot be ignored by any employer anymore: 65 percent of managers would be willing to share their position, according to the new study "Dual Leadership" by ABZ Austria, PwC and the Federation of Austrian Industries (November 22). Shared management tasks ensure improved work-life integration, and more job satisfaction.
And what does the employer get out of it: a more comprehensive view of an issue and thus better decisions, a more objective assessment of employees and a more attractive employer brand, which may well lead to better market opportunities.
* The research institute Integral interviewed 1500 part-time employees on behalf of the Catholic Family Association
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