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Part-Time or Reduced-Hour Work Legislation—Comparative Policy Summary

by Ariane Hegewisch & Janet C. Gornick

April 2009—The Center’s Global Policy report on Measures that Affect the Quality of Part-time or Reduced-hour Work charts data concerning part-time employment from 21 high-income countries as it relates to part-time parity, measures designed to reduce involuntary part-time work, eligibility criteria for receiving social insurance benefits, the legal definition of “part-time work,” and the ILO convention C175 on part-time work.

Although part-time workers are an important part of the labor market in many high-income countries, there has been, in the past, differential treatment that disadvantaged these groups by limiting there access to benefits and affording reduced protection from lay-offs. Particularly, this treatment was seen to disadvantage women, as they are more likely to work part-time “due to their role as primary caregivers.”

The 1997 Part-Time Directive bound all EU member nations to provide a right to equal treatment to part-time employees. Under this directive, part-time employees receive access, on a pro-rated basis, to equal pay, insurance, and other benefits, as well as unemployment benefits and retirement pensions. However, this does not apply to high-income nations outside of the EU, such as the United States, Canada and Australia, and even within the EU there are national level variations on the treatment of part-time employees. This report breaks down on a national level “laws and social insurance arrangements for workers who work less than full-time in 21 high-income countries.”

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