Analyzing the Dilemma between Part-Time Working Hours and Economic Growth in Turkey from a Gender Perspective

Güler Aydın D., Sumbas A.

in: The Dynamics of Growth in Emerging Economies: The Case of Turkey, Arzu Akkoyunlu Wigley ve Selim Çağayat, Editor, Routledge, London/New York , London, pp.197-216, 2019

  • Publication Type: Book Chapter / Chapter Research Book
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Publisher: Routledge, London/New York 
  • City: London
  • Page Numbers: pp.197-216
  • Editors: Arzu Akkoyunlu Wigley ve Selim Çağayat, Editor
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Part-time work, as a type of non-standard employment relations, is defined on the basis of working hours, which refers to working less than normal/full-time working. Although the working hour arrangements in the implementation of part- time work can vary across countries, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) clarifies the part-time employment by highlighting the limit of 30 working hours per week in the main job (OECD, 2005: 91). In addition to this working hour limit targeting less than full-time working, voluntary and regular jobs are the other significant characteristic features of part-time work.

The adoption of part-time work was mainly developed after the crises in the 1970s due to the change in the working conditions and employment relations, which were mainly derived from the advancements, uncertainty among firms, and high unemployment rates of this period. The improvements of the following two decades in the information systems and the services sectors made the working conditions more flexible, and thus, new labour laws have been designed in accordance with these structural changes in the system. Indeed, the arrangements of part-time work have come out, first, to solve the unemployment problem in states; second, to respond to the changing demands of labour market/ new type of production relations; and third, to eliminate work–family life conflict by introducing flexible working hour conditions (Lee, 1996).

The USA and European countries are the leading countries that adopt part- time employment in their labour market. Nearly one in five workers in the USA and one in four workers in the United kingdom work part-time. Turkey is also one of the countries that applies part-time working conditions. As of 2016, 9.5 per cent of the total labour force in Turkey had been working part-time (OECD, 2017). At this juncture, the research data across the world reveals that gender disparity is one of the most widespread issues in the implementation of part-time employment in practice. One reflection of this difference is the higher share of women in part-time employment compared to men in the USA, and in Asia and European countries (Messenger et al., 2007: 68–69). As in these countries, the part-time employment rate for women is higher than men in Turkey. In 2016, the share of male part-time employment in total employment was 5.8 per cent, whereas female part-time employment was 17.77 per cent (OECD, 2017). Since women face the problem of work–family life conflict more than men, being the traditional carrier of home responsibilities, childcare, and other dependents, they more likely prefer to work within part-time working conditions.

In 2016, new legal regulation on part-time employment came into force in Turkey, particularly arranging maternal leave. This new legal regulation is presented as an affirmative action policy, which aims to eliminate gender inequality with the reconciliation of work and family responsibilities, and in turn, it is expected to lead to an increase in the employment rates of women. This legal regulation of part-time work and maternal leave in Turkey is an inherently gendered arrangement, which stems from the patriarchal and conservative mindset in state policies rather than eliminating gender imparity in the working conditions of women and men. In this manner, it is possible to claim that the main driving idea behind these legal regulations is not to eliminate gender inequality with the adoption of equal opportunities or affirmative action strategies. Rather, they aim to minimize the nursing costs of the state. Thus, this raises the question of the impacts of paternal leave and part-time work in terms of their social and economic costs. In this respect, gender perspective is one of the fundamental approaches to comprehensively figure out this question.

In Turkey, women usually earn less than men. This constitutes half or a quarter of the payment of what men receive. Women are generally employed in low paid jobs and are commonly employed part-time. Such kinds of jobs are domestic in nature and in such jobs, women should be able to keep the balance between their family and work lives. These women are non-unionized, work for low wages, and are unproductive (TurkStat, 2014).

Women are also often employed in the secondary type of part-time jobs in Turkey. Such types of jobs generally have low productivity and are low paid.

Along these lines, this study aims to evaluate the impacts of part-time work on women’s employment as well as the likely effects on growth in Turkey. Within this scope, in the first section, the historical and conceptual background of part-time employment in the world and in Turkey will be portrayed. In the second section, the gendered critique of public policies on maternal leave and part-time work in Turkey will be evaluated. In the conclusion, the study intends to reveal the veiled relation between the implementation of part-time employment and women’s subordination in economic life in Turkey. In that sense, it is argued that the implementation of part-time employment, which is based on precarious work conditions of the labour market, deepens not only the insecure, involuntary, irregular, unprotected, and poorly paid employment conditions for employees but also the gender inequalities in Turkey.