Part-time roles make up almost a quarter of social work job ads

Wooden blocks on a table that spell out "Full / Part TIME"

New research by the Social Workers Union (SWU) has revealed another slight increase in the number of employers offering part-time working conditions.

Figures show that of 5,890 job adverts analysed on Total Jobs, Community Care and The Guardian on 23 April and 20 May 2024, just over a quarter (1,362 or 23.1%) offered part-time or flexible hours.

In 2022, an identical study found that 18.7% of roles offered part-time or flexible hours and in 2023 the figure was 22.6%.

The growth in popularity for offering flexible hours has been partially driven by Wales, where 20.4% of roles are part time (up from 14.6% in 2022). England posted a slight rise, up from 18.7% in 2022 to 22.6% today.

However, Scotland has slipped backwards for the second year running with 26.7% of roles being part time in 2024, down from 30.5%.

Members of the union argue that part-time working helps to improve working conditions, provide opportunities for those who need part-time work and improve the retention of social workers.

The research is part of SWU’s call for more part-time work opportunities to be created for social workers.

John McGowan, General Secretary of the Social Workers Union, commented:

“Employers agreed with us that they need to do more to offer part-time working and it is good to see the green shoots of progress we saw in 2023 have continued to prosper.

“With recruitment for social workers still proving challenging for employers, we now need to see much more concerted action and more roles offered on part-time or flexible hours contracts.

“We are particularly concerned about the figures in Scotland where the Scottish Government also continues to refuse to provide adequate funding for social work bursaries. There are clearly worrying months and years ahead for the profession in Scotland unless working conditions, recruitment practices and student development improve.”

SWU and the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) will soon start a new UK-wide Campaign for Fair Working Conditions for Social Workers with a clear message that we need to promote stable workforce incentives to hire permanent staff and options for part time roles within this.