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These holidays #parttimePM tweeters should consider another hashtag

Opinion article written by Jo Cribb, republished from Stuff

A sure sign that you have switched to holiday mode is when you can't remember what day it is. 

Then you start to think you'd like to have a bit more work-life balance all year.  

Maybe work four days a week and finish that house project? Exercise more? Spend more time with your family? 

Before you rush to download the form from HR and apply for part-time hours, you need to know something. Part timers aren't as valued as their full-time colleagues.  

Not only will you lose money now because you are working less hours, you will lose money in the long run because you are less valued.  Research shows part-timers are given fewer opportunities to develop their skills and miss out on promotions.  

Data from the public service shows that in 2018, the five percent of public servants who worked part were paid on average 13 per cent less than full-time workers on a full-time equivalent basis. I predict the data is the same for other sectors.  

Why? I never thought I would ever write this, but the answer is on Twitter.

The amount of hours one does or does not work has been turned into the insult #parttimePM. Opposition leader Simon Bridges used it earlier in the year to express his disapproval of the Prime Minister's trip to Tokelau during Parliament's sitting time. It must have been borrowed from the Twitter-sphere as it had already been used to describe two previous British PMs, as well as a Canadian and Indian one. 

I analysed the tweets using this hashtag and four themes emerged, beliefs that: to be successful you need to work long hours, you're a lesser being if you're a part-timer, childcare is not valuable and men who stay home to look after children are avoiding work. 

Let's take a look at these. 

One tweeter pointed out even if the Prime Minister was working 50 hours a week, she was lazy because good executives work 60 or more.  

Equating long hours to success is empirically flawed. Countless studies show that length of time working has little correlation to effectiveness and productivity actually declines after 55 hours as the quality of our decision-making and ability to communicate drops. 

Secondly tweeters implied working part-time means you are less capable, knowledgeable and weak. Just how are you weak if you don't work Fridays?

Third, one hashtagger tweeted at our PM 'remember it's Wednesday, that's play group day and time for coffee and carrot cake'.  Unlike this tweeter, I appreciate the hard physical and emotional work those caring for children do each day.  Their unpaid work is the single largest feature of our economy. 

Finally, other tweeters suggested the Prime Minister's partner is on the gravy train and men who stay at home to care for their children are trying to avoid work.  As anyone who has stayed at home with a toddler will attest, it is often easier to be in paid employment.  That way, at least you get to go to the toilet by yourself.  

It is attitudes like those in the #parttimePM tweets that degrade part-time workers and the contribution they make to our businesses.  As many part-time workers are women, these attitudes reinforce gender inequalities in the workplace and feed the gender pay gap. 

The International Labour Organisation says part-time work is critical to ensuring we have the skills needed in our tight labour market.  We do not have the luxury of deciding that someone who takes Thursday afternoons off is not as valuable as someone who doesn't.

To those who wish to express their dissatisfaction with the current Prime Minister (who clearly works far more than most full-timers), please use another hashtag. Find one that does not degrade tens of thousands of hard working kiwis. 

And to everyone else, good luck with your application to HR because #parttimeworkrulz 


Jo Cribb is a consultant who supports organisations and their leaders to create diverse and inclusive workplaces. She is the former chief executive of the Ministry for Women.



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