As organizations dedicated to strengthening workplace protections and promoting economic security for working families, we write to urge you to co-sponsor the Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights Act in the 117th Congress. Part-time workers—who are disproportionately women and people of color—are far more likely than full-time workers to face volatile hours, unstable paychecks, and few benefits or opportunities to advance on the job. The Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights Act will help ensure that part-time workers have the pay, hours, and benefits they need to support themselves and their families.
Relative to their full-time counterparts, part-time employees frequently make less per hour, face unpredictable schedules, lack access to important workplace benefits, and are denied promotion opportunities. All working people deserve fair treatment on the job. But employers pay part-time employees less per hour than full-time employees in the same occupations, and part-time workers are far less likely to have access to employer-sponsored benefits such as health insurance, retirement benefits, and paid—or even unpaid—time off. Employers are more likely to give part-time employees short notice of their work schedules and change their hours from week to week. And research shows that employers are more likely to promote full-time workers than part-time workers.
For millions of people across the country, working part time is not a choice. Many people seek part time work to support their families while caring for loved ones, going to school, or attending to other obligations. But as of December 2021, among the 33 million people working part time in the United States, more than one in eight work part time “involuntarily” (as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics) and would prefer full-time work. In fact, the numbers may be much higher, since these estimates do not capture people who want to work part time but receive fewer hours than they are seeking from their employer—a scenario that is common in many low-paid service sector jobs. For example, research from the Center for Law and Social Policy shows that up to 40 percent of all people working part time would prefer more hours, including half of people working part time in service occupations. In addition, for some people—especially women—who work part time due to caregiving responsibilities or other obligations, the “choice” of part-time work may be forced by high child care costs or inflexible and unpredictable work schedules.
With low pay, volatile work hours and incomes, and little opportunity to advance in the workplace, part-time workers struggle to make ends meet. The challenges of part-time work have severe consequences for working families—especially as many people working part time are primary earners for their households. Part-time workers experience poverty at far higher rates than full-time workers, and the economic hardship that Black women and Latinas working part time face is especially pronounced. Addressing this reality, and improving the quality of part-time work, is key to promoting family economic security and to reducing gender and racial income disparities—particularly in the wake of a pandemic that has disproportionately harmed women and people of color.
The Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights Act will extend protections to the part-time workforce that all working people deserve. The Act provides part-time employees with:
- Part-time parity. For jobs that require substantially similar skills, responsibilities, and duties, employers would be required to treat part-time and full-time employees equally, including with regard to wages, ability to accrue benefits, and eligibility for promotions.
- Access to hours. Some employers spread hours among a large pool of part-time staff in order to “flex up” on short notice, rather than offering stable, full-time positions. By requiring employers to offer additional available hours to their qualified existing employees before making new hires, the law would promote more adequate hours for part-time employees and full-time work for people who want it.
- Family and medical leave. Access to leave—both paid and unpaid—is notably lacking in the U.S., especially for part-time workers. The Act would change the “hours of service” requirement from the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which would allow any employee who has worked for their employer for least 90 days—regardless of how many hours they work per week—to be eligible for leave under the FMLA.
We urge you to co-sponsor and pass this important legislation.
(see full list of organizations)