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Women and parents driving growth in part time self-employment

20 April 2016

Citizens Advice analysis of latest labour market statistics

The number of self-employed people working part-time hours has risen by over a third since 2010 to 1.35m, outstripping growth in all other types of employment, finds Citizens Advice.

As the latest labour market statistics out today show the employment rate still at the joint highest level since records began in 1971, analysis by the national charity finds that since 2010:

  • Full time employment has gone up by 7%

  • Part-time employment has grown by 5%

  • The number of self-employed people working full time is up by by 13%

  • The number of self-employed people working part time has grown by 36% .

The ONS figures show there are now 360,000 more people who are part-time self-employed than in 2010, of which 205,000 are of working age.

Citizens Advice has identified two key trends within working age people who are self-employed and work part-time hours.

Firstly, women are far more likely to be self-employed and work part time rather than full time. Two thirds of people who work for themselves on a part time basis are women, compared with just one in five people who are full time self-employed.

Secondly the number of parents with a dependent child who are now working for themselves on a part-time basis has gone up by 30%.  Parents now make up just over half of all part-time self-employed people of working age.

Examples of people working part-time self-employed include a cleaner who works three hours a day while their child is in school or a graphic designer who takes on enough work to fit around caring for their elderly parents.

The charity’s analysis identifies that in 4 out of 5 cases self-employed people working part time didn’t want full time hours.

Citizens Advice believes some people are moving to becoming self-employed as a route to working part time. This flexible approach to work means people can juggle a job with other commitments such as looking after their children or caring for relatives.

However the charity highlights that while going self-employed and working part time offers more flexibility in terms of how they manage their commitments, it can be a trade off against other benefits.  Women who work for an employer receive  higher levels of maternity support than those who work for themselves, and men receive paternity pay.

Citizens Advice research finds many self-employed people are reluctant to take time off work after the birth of a child, for fear of losing income or clients.  New figures reveal over a third (37%) of part-time self-employed parents are taking a week or less off work after the birth of their child, compared with less than one in five (16%) part-time employed people.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“Part-time self-employment makes up the smallest yet fastest growing part of our workforce.

“Working for yourself on a part time basis can be the ideal solution for many juggling work and family commitments. As the labour market continues to change support systems need to adapt and meet the needs of the growing number of people choosing to be self-employed and work part-time hours.

“New parents who are self-employed face a particular challenge - mothers get limited maternity support after the birth of a child, while fathers to new babies and anyone adopting receives no support at all.

“We hope that the government is giving careful thought to Julie Deane’s recommendation to bring maternity allowance in line with statutory maternity support paid to women in employment.  There is also an opportunity for government to consider similar support for fathers by giving them the same paternity pay as employees.”

In February the government-commissioned Julie Deane review of self-employment highlighted the need for more support for self-employed people, including parents.

Citizens Advice welcomed the recommendation of enhanced maternity pay for self-employed people, and called for parity with employees to be extended to self-employed fathers, who currently receive no paternity pay, as well as the introduction of an adoption allowance for self-employed people.

Notes to editors

  1. The analysis of ONS data uses figures from today's Summary of Labour Market Statistics to February 2016 and analysis of the Labour Force Survey to December 2015.
  2. Citizens Advice polling conducted by YouGov on 9-15 November 2015 Base: 653 employed, 650 self-employed.
  3. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local Citizens Advice, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  4. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  5. To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice in England and Wales, visit
  6. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.
  7. Local Citizens Advice in England and Wales advised 2.5 million clients on 6.2 million problems in 2014/15. For full service statistics see our publication Advice trends.
  8. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 service outlets across England and Wales.