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80 percent of France's part-time workers are women

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French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron with women workers at a Novo Nordisk plant in Chartres Reuters/Guillaume Souvant/Pool

More than 80 percent of France's part-time workers are women, a government study has shown. Nearly a third of women employees work part-time, compared to just 7.0 percent of men, and the proportion is even higher among women with partners, research by the statistical service (Dares) of the French Labour Ministry has found.


"Recent years have seen a great increase in part-time working," the Dares study observes.

Only eight percent of the French workforce was part-time in 1975, by the middle of the 1980s it had risen to 10 percent and in 2013 it was 19 percent, about the same as the level for the whole European Union, which was 19.4 percent in 2014.

The less qualified you are, the less likely you are to have a full-time job but the statistics are even more affected by gender.

The overwhelming majority - 81 percent - of France's part-time workers are female, the study found, and 31 percent of women work part-time, slightly lower than the European average of 32.2 percent.

But "the level of part-time work among women living as part of a couple is higher than that of women as a whole, for almost all ages and generations".

What is more, the longer a woman has had a partner the less likely she is to be in full-time employment.

Childcare major factor

The situation is "evidence of the specificity of women's employment activity, which links professional and family life, and affects their advance on the labour market", the report comments.

Nearly a third of part-time workers would rather be working full-time and this is especially the case among young or less qualified people or those approaching retirement age.

But the proportion of women among the 68 percent who have chosen part-time employment, as well as the fact that 45 percent of women workers with three or more children are part-timers, shows that the burden of childcare and housework still falls overwhelmingly on women.

"Men more often say they work part-time in order to pursue another professional activity, to study or undergo training or for health reasons," the report says. "While women more often wish to look after their children or another family member."

A partner moving for work can also lead to a woman becoming unemployed or finding lower-paid or less suitable employment and part-time employment is higher in rural areas and in the service industries.

For a history of women's rights in France, click here