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Part-Time Workers

Volume 124: debated on Monday 7 December 1987

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To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what evidence he has on the effect of employment rights for part-time workers on the economic conditions for the creation of part-time jobs.

Evidence from a number of surveys indicates that some employers are reluctant to recruit additional staff because of the employment protection legislation. Although the proportions are small, they represent a significant number of employers and missed employment opportunities.

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will estimate the number of part-time workers who currently qualify for employment rights but who would be excluded from these if the proposals in the White Paper "Building Businesses … Not Barriers" are implemented; and how many of these would be women.

It is not our intention to take away employment protection rights from those who currently qualify for them. Estimates of the numbers excluded in the future depend on factors such as the state of the labour market at the time. However, the latest figures available indicate that in March 1986, 313,300 people were in jobs in the categories which would be affected by the proposal to increase the part-time hours thresholds in employment protection legislation. Of these some 93 per cent. were jobs occupied by women.

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will now support the adoption of the European Economic Community directive on voluntary part-time work, in respect of non-discrimination between part-time and full-time employees.

No. This directive would limit the flexibility which is a major attraction of part-time work for both employers and employees. It would increase employers' costs and have an adverse effect on employment.