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Routes to Part-Time Management in UK Service Sector Organizations: Implications for Women’s Skills, Flexibility and Progression


*Leeds University Business School, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, e-mail:


This article examines the implications of part-time working for mothers, particularly with regards to their occupational mobility and acquisition of skills, in UK service sector organizations following the implementation of the Part-time Workers’ Directive in 2000. Through qualitative interviews with women and their managers in five hospitality workplaces, this article explores whether part-time workers are potentially the ‘losers’ in the ‘winner-takes-all’ approach to career development. Discussions focus upon the extent to which part-time workers can access career paths or, alternatively, whether part-time management positions are the reserve of highly skilled women who are able to negotiate reduced hours after obtaining a management position full time. In conclusion, this article distinguishes between two forms of working-time flexibility, which are named optimal and restrictive. The implications of these alternative types of flexibility, in terms of access to skill acquisition and occupational mobility, are then addressed.