Stepping-stone or dead end: to what extent does part-time employment enable progression out of low pay for male and female employees in the UK?

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

January 15, 2020


Using data from Understanding Society and the British Household Panel Survey, this article explores the relationship between working part-time and progression out of low pay for male and female employees using a discrete-time event history model. The results show that working part-time relative to full-time decreases the likelihood of progression out of low pay, defined as earning below two-thirds of the median hourly wage. However, part-time workers who transition to full-time employment experience similar rates of progression to full-time workers. This casts doubt on the idea that part-time workers have lower progression rates because they have lower abilities or work motivation and reinforces the need to address the quality of part-time jobs in the UK labour market. The negative effect of working part-time is greater for men than for women, although women are more at risk of becoming trapped in low pay in the sense that they tend to work part-time for longer periods of time, particularly if they have children. Factors such as childcare policy and Universal Credit (UC) incentivise part-time employment for certain groups, although in the right labour market conditions UC may encourage some part-time workers to increase their working hours.

Published in

Journal of Social Policy

Volume and page numbers

Volume: 49 , p.41 -59







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