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Part-Time Employment in Switzerland

Relevance, Impact and Challenges

Series:

Irenka Krone-Germann

In recent labour market history, one of the most striking features has been the increase in part-time employment. In Switzerland, one person out of three works part-time. 57% of women work part-time compared to only 13% of men. This disparity between women and men is one of the highest worldwide. At the same time, differences in the level of education between genders are disappearing. Given the magnitude of this phenomenon, new questions and challenges need to be addressed.
By presenting several econometrical models and taking into account historical and social gender focused behaviors, the author analyzes the impact of part-time employment on earning disparities, labour market segmentation and the probability of being promoted to a higher level of responsibility. While introducing ways to improve the situation for part-timers, the author examines innovative models of work organization such as job-sharing, top-sharing, functional flexibility and project team rotations. Beyond demonstrating the need for changes within public and private companies, the book also reveals concrete instruments on policy which could facilitate the implementation of such innovative models.

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Foreword - IX

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IX Foreword Over the past two decades, the Swiss labour market has undergone pro- found transformations. They are characterized by the emergence of new forms of employment which have occurred particularly in terms of work organization, its duration, its content and the status of the working pop- ulation. If at first glance, the new forms of work may seem very differ- ent from each other, they all meet the same trend seen in most devel- oped countries, which are related to more flexible working conditions and arrangements. Although part-time work is not really new, its recent expansion con- stitutes one of the major changes currently being experienced by the Swiss labour market. Indeed, in 1970, only 12 % of employees were working part-time (occupation rate below 90 %). Since then this rate has grown steadily, now reaching almost 34 % of the workforce, ac- cording to the Swiss Labour Force Survey (SLFS). This relatively high percentage puts Switzerland in fourth place worldwide behind the Neth- erlands, Japan and Australia according to ILO Official Statistics. But unlike these countries, Switzerland is characterized by the fact that this form of employment is still largely dominated by the female popula- tion which represents nearly 79 % of all part-timers. For women who have children, this form of employment is often the only possibility to reconcile work and family life. Within the male population, part-time is widely used by men who work while conti- nuing their studies, following a training program or who are...

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