According to research by Croner, which surveyed 2,009 working adults in the UK, part time workers are losing out against full time workers when it comes to protecting their health. The research found that 28% of full time respondents do not receive access to occupational health services compared with 42% of part time respondents. The research also revealed that while 49% of full time respondents said their employer is proactive in preventing ill health in the workplace, only 38% of part timers said the same. This imbalance goes against the general principle that employers are not permitted to treat part time workers less favourably than full-time staff.
Stephen Thomas, safety technical consultant at Croner, said:
“These findings on occupational health provision raise several concerns.
“Employers have a duty of care to ensure, to a reasonable extent, the health and safety of all their employees, whether they are full or part-time. And that is true for preventing ill health in the workplace as much as for preventing accidents.
“… Occupational health is a business benefit too. Investing in useful, proactive health surveillance, monitoring and support can not only help individuals, but also prevent lost working time and productivity.”
Labour market figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that part time working remains overwhelmingly dominated by women, perhaps predominantly because of their caring responsibilities. In fact, the vast majority of men in employment work full time (86-8%) compared to just over half of all women in employment (56-57%), and significantly more women in employment work part time (43%) compared to men (13%) – a figure that has remained stable over the past ten years or so. These findings from Croner would suggest, therefore, that women in particular could be negatively affected by any imbalance between the occupational health support offered to part time and full time workers.
Employers have a legislative responsibility to look after the health of their employees (whether full time or part time) and can help sustain their organisation’s productivity by dealing proactivity with health issues that affect employees’ ability to work. That’s why the Health for Work Adviceline (0800 0 77 88 44) offers free, professional advice and guidance to employers/managers on all employee health matters.