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Part-time careers in Norway – the end of normalization? Women’s working time adaptation in a longitudinal perspective

In this project, we explore the new realities and implications of part-time working. The spotlight focuses particularly on the relationship between ‘good and bad’ part-time working in a national and international perspective.

Background and aims

Part-time work as a phenomenon is linked to the ongoing debate on labour market dualisation and the capacity of politicians to influence practices in working life and in families. The key questions are as follows:

  • How has the link between part-time working and gender, and particularly the female part of the workforce, developed over time?
  • How do policies and regulations at different levels impact on the situation for part-time employees and the proliferation of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ part-time jobs?
  • What role does part-time working play in family policies and policies related to the work-life balance in different national contexts?
  • What characterises good and bad part-time work and how can we understand the relationship between different variants of this category of working time?

Results

The contributions to the project stem from a wide range of European countries, the USA, Australia and South Korea. We give a taster here of the knowledge generated through the project.

Part-time working in Norway – from ‘solution’ to ‘problem’

Two contributions to the project specifically address the arguments and considerations that have been at the heart of the Norwegian debate on part-time working over the past 40 years. The authors show that while women’s economic independence and freedom to choose to work part-time were most important at the start of the 1980s, part-time work is considered to be undesirable in the contemporary debate. The development of this view is interesting in that it reflects the evolution of society along many dimensions and illustrates how developments in working life, society and the welfare state are inextricably linked. This is also of interest beyond Norway’s borders, where labour force participation among women is lower and part-time working is discussed as a solution to the integration of women, but one that creates inequality.   

Can political regulations affect the quality of part-time working?

The potential of political regulations to prevent or impede the development of a dualised working life is a core issue in several of the contributions. EU regulations have a modest effect on the prevalence and quality of part-time jobs. National regulations, policies and traditions are far more central to the part-time profile in the individual countries. In practice, however, national regulations also face challenges, such as those in the workplace. Several contributions illustrate that although political regulations have been introduced to increase women’s participation in the labour market and to fight involuntary part-time working, workplace strategies and interests may thwart policy implementation.

Good and bad part-time jobs

The overarching debates on part-time working are often about whether part-time work is a good or bad form of labour force attachment. Since the majority of part-time employees are women, the discussion on the quality of part-time work also affects gender equality – is part-time working a good strategy for increasing women’s opportunities to combine work and family, or not? In the project, we show that the quality of part-time jobs varies between countries, but also within different industries and between different occupational groups in the same industry. Based on contributions from various countries with different labour and welfare regimes, a typology of part-time jobs is developed according to two core dimensions; the extent to which employees can choose to work part time and the quality of working conditions and social rights. 

 

  WORKING CONDITIONS AND SOCIAL PROTECTION
  GOOD MIXED BAD

VOLUNTARY

1. Equalised

2. Semi-secured

3. Transitionals 

INVOLUNTARY

4. Underemployed

5. Precarious

6. Marginalised 

Source: Nicolaisen, Kavli & Jensen 2019.

 

Who are the most vulnerable part-time employees?

The extremes of the typology are the ‘marginalised’ part-time employees and the employees with equal rights, but several intermediate categories are identified in between these. The project illustrates considerable variation between countries both in the proliferation of part-time jobs with little protection and in relation to the quality of working conditions among the most vulnerable employees. Meanwhile, despite the high share of part-time employees in Scandinavia whose conditions and rights can be categorised as equal to those of full-time employees, there are also part-time employees in this region in far more vulnerable or marginalised positions. Immigrants and people with a low level of education are particularly vulnerable. However, those who work part time in addition to studying cannot be considered to be quite as marginalised even though they have poor working conditions in some industries. They work part-time voluntarily and are progressing through life. Mobility is thus an important dimension of quality.

Does part-time work function as an integration strategy?

In integration policy, it is often argued that working part time can serve as a first step on the path to a more comprehensive and stable job in the host country. Several of the contributions investigate this within the Norwegian context. Immigrants – both men and women – have a higher transition rate from working part time to full time than Norwegians, but they also face a greater risk of falling outside the labour market after working part time. This particularly applies to immigrants from Africa and Asia. Lack of a formal education from Norway represents a barrier to labour force participation and mobility in working hours.

 

Scientific publications

Kavli, H.C. og H. Nicolaisen (2016): Integrert eller marginalisert? Innvandrede kvinner i norsk arbeidsliv. Tidsskrift for samfunnsforskning 2016/4.

Nergaard, K. (2016): Utbredelsen av deltid og ulike arbeidstidsordninger, kapittel 3 i Kari Ingstad (red.): Turnus som fremmer heltidskultur. Gyldendal Akademisk.

Mósesdóttir, L., & Ellingsæter, A. L. (2017). Ideational struggles over women’s part-time work in Norway: Destabilizing the gender contract. Economic and Industrial Democracy

Ellingsæter, A.L & R. S. Jensen (2019) Politicising women’s part-time work in Norway: A longitudinal study of ideas. Work, Employment and Society  

Nicolaisen, H., H.C. Kavli and R.S. Jensen (eds.) (2019): Dualisation of part-time work. The development of labour market insiders and outsiders. Chapter 1: Introduction. Policy Press

Bekker, S. & D. Gailani (2019): EU regulations and governance of part-time work. Chapter 2.

Maestripieri, L. & M. León (2019): So close, so far? Part-time employment and its effects on gender equality in Italy and Spain. Chapter 3.

Nicolaisen, H., H.C. Kavli and S. Trygstad (2019): Workplace responses to national regulations to reduce involuntary part-time work. Chapter 4

Chung, H. (2019): Part-time working women’s access to other types of flexible working time arrangements across Europe. Chapter 5.

Larsen, T.P., A. Ilsøe & J. Felbo-Kolding (2019): Part-time work in Danish private services: A (mis)match between wage flexibility and living hours. Chapter 6.

Kavli, H.C. and R.A. Nielsen (2019): Stepping in, stepping out or staying put? Part-time work and immigrant integration in Norway. Chapter 7

Hudson, K. & A. Kalleberg (2019): How good is half a job? Part-time employment and job-quality in the United States. Chapter 8

Nätti, J. & K. Nergaard (2019): Dualisation or normalization of part-time work in the Nordic countries: work insecurity and mobility over time. Chapter 9.

Pfau-Effinger, B. & T. Reimer (2019): The interplay of welfare state policies with supply and demand side factors in the production of marginalised part-time employment among women in Germany. Chapter 10.

Yerkes, M.A. & B. Hewitt (2019): Part-time strategies of women and men of childbearing age in the Netherlands and Australia. Chapter 11.

Song, M.Y. & S. S. Lee (2019): Are female part-time workers dualised in South Korea? Institutional structures and employment conditions of South Korean female part-time jobs. Chapter 12.

Commentaries and lectures

Kavli, Hanne C. (2016). Innvandrernes kompetansenivå og forutsetninger for deltakelse i arbeidslivet. Foredrag på læringsnettverk for kommunene i Buskerud, Vestfold og Telemark i regi av KS, Kongsvinger. 11. oktober.

Kavli, Hanne C. (2016). Innvandrede kvinner og norsk arbeidsliv. Forelesning for masterstudenter i sosiologi og statsvitenskap ved NTNU. 4. oktober.

Kavli, Hanne C. (2016). Hvorfor tar vi ikke i bruk innvandreres kompetanse i arbeidslivet? Foredrag og debatt på VOX-arrangement under Arendalsuka. 18. august.

Kavli, Hanne, C. (2016). Innvandrerkvinner og norsk arbeidsliv. Foredrag og spørsmål under Arendalsuka, Fafo-arrangement på MS-sjøkurs. 17. august.

Kavli, Hanne, C. (2016). Innvandrede kvinner og norsk arbeidsliv. Foredrag for Offentlig utvalg om støtten til barnefamiliene (leder: Anne Lise Ellingsæter). 24. mai.

Nicolaisen, Heidi og Kavli, Hanne C. (2016). En for innenfor? Innvandrede kvinner og deltidsarbeid. Foredrag for LOs likestillingspolitiske utvalg, LO, 19. april.

Kavli, Hanne C. (2016). Innvandrernes kompetansenivå og forutsetninger for deltakelse i arbeidslivet. Foredrag på konferanse i regi av KS og fylkesmannen i Sør-Trøndelag, Hell hotell. 16. mars.

Kavli, Hanne C. (2016). Integrering gjennom arbeid. Foredrag på fagdag i Nes kommune, Akershus, 9. mars.

Nicolaisen, Heidi og Hanne C. Kavli (2016). Kan ikke, vil ikke eller får ikke? Innvandrede kvinner i deltidsjobb. 8.mars-seminar på Fafo.

Kavli, Hanne C. (15. mars 2016). En fot innenfor er ikke nok. Kronikk i Kommunal rapport.

Kavli, Hanne, C. (2016). Rett person på gal plass? Utfordringer og muligheter i integreringsarbeidet for flyktninger. Plenumsinnlegg og debattdeltakelse på fagseminar i regi av VOX for ansatte og ledere ved de fylkesvise karrieresentrene. 8. november.

Nicolaisen, Heidi og Hanne C. Kavli (2015). Helt integrert? Deltidsarbeid blant innvandrede kvinner. Foredrag på FARVE-konferansen 2015, Scandic Fornebu. 29. oktober.

Kavli, Hanne C. (2015). Kan ikke, vil ikke, får ikke? Innvandrede kvinner og norsk arbeidsliv. Foredrag på konferansen «Slik lykkes vi med sysselsetting av innvandrere» i regi av JobbAktiv, Gardermoen. 11. november.

Kavli, Hanne C. (2015). Integrering av innvandrere – hvordan går det egentlig? Foredrag på Gjøvik på arrangement i regi av Pensjonistuniversitetet. 12. november.

In the press

Kavli, Hanne C. (2016). Innvandrernes kompetansenivå og forutsetninger for deltakelse i arbeidslivet. Foredrag på læringsnettverk for kommunene i Buskerud, Vestfold og Telemark i regi av KS, Kongsvinger. 11. oktober.

Kavli, Hanne C. (2016). Innvandrede kvinner og norsk arbeidsliv. Forelesning for masterstudenter i sosiologi og statsvitenskap ved NTNU. 4. oktober.

Kavli, Hanne C. (2016). Hvorfor tar vi ikke i bruk innvandreres kompetanse i arbeidslivet? Foredrag og debatt på VOX-arrangement under Arendalsuka. 18. august.

Kavli, Hanne, C. (2016). Innvandrerkvinner og norsk arbeidsliv. Foredrag og spørsmål under Arendalsuka, Fafo-arrangement på MS-sjøkurs. 17. august.

Kavli, Hanne, C. (2016). Innvandrede kvinner og norsk arbeidsliv. Foredrag for Offentlig utvalg om støtten til barnefamiliene (leder: Anne Lise Ellingsæter). 24. mai.

Nicolaisen, Heidi og Kavli, Hanne C. (2016). En for innenfor? Innvandrede kvinner og deltidsarbeid. Foredrag for LOs likestillingspolitiske utvalg, LO, 19. april.

Kavli, Hanne C. (2016). Innvandrernes kompetansenivå og forutsetninger for deltakelse i arbeidslivet. Foredrag på konferanse i regi av KS og fylkesmannen i Sør-Trøndelag, Hell hotell. 16. mars.

Kavli, Hanne C. (2016). Integrering gjennom arbeid. Foredrag på fagdag i Nes kommune, Akershus, 9. mars.

Nicolaisen, Heidi og Hanne C. Kavli (2016). Kan ikke, vil ikke eller får ikke? Innvandrede kvinner i deltidsjobb. 8.mars-seminar på Fafo.

Kavli, Hanne C. (15. mars 2016). En fot innenfor er ikke nok. Kronikk i Kommunal rapport.

Kavli, Hanne, C. (2016). Rett person på gal plass? Utfordringer og muligheter i integreringsarbeidet for flyktninger. Plenumsinnlegg og debattdeltakelse på fagseminar i regi av VOX for ansatte og ledere ved de fylkesvise karrieresentrene. 8. november.

Nicolaisen, Heidi og Hanne C. Kavli (2015). Helt integrert? Deltidsarbeid blant innvandrede kvinner. Foredrag på FARVE-konferansen 2015, Scandic Fornebu. 29. oktober.

Kavli, Hanne C. (2015). Kan ikke, vil ikke, får ikke? Innvandrede kvinner og norsk arbeidsliv. Foredrag på konferansen «Slik lykkes vi med sysselsetting av innvandrere» i regi av JobbAktiv, Gardermoen. 11. november.

Kavli, Hanne C. (2015). Integrering av innvandrere – hvordan går det egentlig? Foredrag på Gjøvik på arrangement i regi av Pensjonistuniversitetet. 12. november.

Medieomtaler

Arbeidslivet.no (2016).  Den vanskelige foten innenfor for innvandrede kvinner. Artikkel om funn fra prosjektet, 19. mars.

Kavli, Hanne C. (2016). Nrk Dagsnytt Atten. Om Innvandrerkvinner og deltidsstillinger. 18. mars.

Intervju med Heidi Nicolaisen og Hanne C. Kavli i Kilden (2016). Prosjektet og foreløpige funn. Innvandrede kvinner faller ut av arbeidsmarkedet igjen. 17. mars.

Interview with Heidi Nicolaisen and Hanne C. Kavli in Kilden (2016). Immigrant women fall out of labour market again. Interview in Kilden. Translated. March 21.

Trygstad, Sissel (2016). Nrk Alltid Nyheter, 8. mars. Intervju om kvinners deltidsarbeid.

 

Publications

Nicolaisen, Heidi og Hanne C. Kavli (2016). En fot innenfor? Innvandrede kvinner og deltidsarbeid. Foredrag for LOs likestillingspolitiske utvalg, LO. 19 april