This post was contributed by Marta Gordon, student in Miller's SOC 3013 class.
Everyone agrees we need more jobs, but is part-time employment the answer? Some people may just need extra money for a short time, or can only work part time due to other responsibilities, and for them it is a boon. However, for many other workers, part-time jobs are a trap. In fact, a growing employer practice is to require part-time workers to have around-the-clock availability. And if such workers cannot report for duty when called, or are even found to have another job, they then may be terminated. This recent On Point panel interview, Stuck in Part Time, examines these pitfalls and other problems with part-time employment.
One of the biggest financial problems with part-time jobs is that such workers not only may make less, but they also may not qualify for benefits. And with the new health-care provisions that will be enacted, there appear to be clear incentives for employers to increasingly transform jobs from full-time to part-time status. Indeed, a recent article by Furchtgott-Roth of the Manhattan Institute suggests that employers could theoretically reduce their cost-per-labor-hour by half should they go to an all part-time work force in order to minimize mandate penalties.
However, there is already evidence that shifting to part-time workers may generate backlash. For example, in anticipation of health-care insurance changes which become effective January 1, Darden Restaurants, owner of Olive Garden and Red Lobster, announced in October that it would be moving even more of its 185,000 employees over to part-time status, despite the fact that about 70 percent were already part time. However, citing adverse public reaction leading to lower sales in test market areas, Darden just announced that it was suspending such efforts for now.