The crisis triggers jobs with fewer hours than desired

Paula has been in the unemployment. While I was studying I was working part time in a gym. “The monitors are hired 20 or 25 hours because if one suffers an injury, a colleague replaces him, extending the day until 40 temporarily,” he laments. The result is that Paula and her colleagues can only hope to earn a salary of just 500 euros per month.

That involuntary bias (working fewer hours than desired) is a phenomenon that has exploded during the previous crisis, according to a report by the La Caixa Social Observatory prepared by the professor of the Carlos III University of Madrid, Margarita Torre. “The number of young people with mismatches in the hours they work has grown, but also the volume of hours who would like to work more.” In 2002, the average hours that they wanted to work were 11.7 hours per month, while in 2018 the volume had grown to 17.8 hours per month.


Why? “Because the precariousness of employment has taken its toll on young people,” Torre replies. The teacher clarifies that the problem of jet lag not only affects part-time contracts but also full-time contracts that do not reach eight hours a day.

The report highlights that “part-time employment, temporary contracts and mostly female occupations are the main determinants of working fewer hours than desired.” As for the affectation, it is primed in “young people from outside the European Union and women.”

Trade union complaint

They are workers who despite having a job are poor due to the low wages they receive

Of those under 32 years of age, 23.8% would like to work longer hours. In 2007, just before the previous crisis started, the percentage was 10.7%. These figures can show this group of employees that, despite having a job, they are considered poor, as the unions denounce. “In young people, precariousness is always three times higher than in the average”, points out Elena Álvarez, from the youth section of UGT Catalunya. Álvarez explains that the case that Paula denounced in the gyms occurs in other sectors such as the hospitality industry, where it is common to make part-time contracts of four hours but if there is a task later they force the employee to stay, often paying him in black.

Involuntary bias

The problem is most serious among young people, especially from outside the EU, and among women

Irene Ortiz, from the youth section of CC.OO. Catalunya, ensures that involuntary bias also occurs in jobs related to the distribution of sports brands or department stores. “They use the claim that with few hours of work you have time to study, but in the end you only have a precarious job,” he says. The most extreme case is perhaps that of home delivery (the so-called riders ). The companies that hire them point out that it is a complement for young people who study, but the reality is that for many parents this job on the bicycle is the only one they have.

The report highlights that some of the professions with the most time mismatch are saleswomen, cleaners (domestic, hotel and office), caregivers and professionals associated with health (dental assistants, receptionists at medical centers).

Professor Torre points out that bias is not in itself bad for some groups if it is accompanied by public support measures. For example, if a person who takes care of another receives some kind of help with a partial contract, it may be enough to live.

In a report by CC.OO. last year there was a warning of a latent unemployment that is not reflected in the statistics. In this group would be, for example, involuntary part-time workers. The National Institute of Statistics (INE) indicates that the employees with a partial contract due to the impossibility of obtaining a full-time one were 1.3 million in the third quarter of the year, according to the EPA.

Irene Ortiz maintains that the pandemic has reduced the problem, but because a good part of the partial jobs that existed have disappeared, such as those related to the tourism services sector.

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