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The reality of equal opportunities

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Part-time work has been the major area of employment growth during the last decade and now forms almost one-quarter of total employment in the UK. Within the literature it is argued that a key aspect of the growth of part-time work is its role in enabling an organisation to meet the diverse needs of its workforce. But to what extent does the reality match the aspirations? Using questionnaires and in-depth interviews, the expectations and experiences of part-time staff in a large public sector organisation and their managers are explored. The findings reveal practical difficulties inherent in meeting the diverse needs of the workforce including hidden costs, conflict between the needs of full-time and part-time staff and inequality caused by the "level playing field" approach. The research also identified the importance of non-standard hours to these employees, which may reduce pressure on employers to find solutions to the problems.
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Keywords: Equal Opportunities; Flexible Working; Management; Part-Time Work; Patterns of Work; Women

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1999-05-01

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