The 'forgotten workforce' : a study into the effects of working part-time unsocial hours upon secondary wage earners within hospitality and retail
The expansion of trading hours especially within hospitality and retail has allowed a previously restricted segment of the nation's workforce an enhanced opportunity to participate in employment outside traditional working hours. Focusing upon mothers who adopt employment outside of the conventional working day, this study examines the consequences of accepting such employment and considers what influence this type of employment has upon the individual, their partner and their family. Despite the growing numbers, this vulnerable sector of the workforce often fails to attract a high priority of public or academic attention with the majority of policy initiatives (both company and government) being directed toward full-time employees. To document the effect of working part-time unsocial hours this research undertook interviews with eighty six individuals from a national supermarket chain and a restaurant group with a further twenty three follow-up interviews one year later. The data gathered documents the reality of paritime unsocial hours working (often involving emotional labour ) and examines the effect this form of employment has upon work performance. The analysis continues with an assessment of the effect such working has upon the lives of the individuals concerned and discusses the importance of partner support for coping with the problems associated with part-time unsocial hours work. The study concludes with practical suggestions that employers can adopt to improve welfare at work. It recommends government initiatives together with legislative changes designed to protect this vulnerable sector of the workforce from exploitation.