NEWS

Part-time jobs hard to find; many women in Greece working without pay

In Greece, the study was conducted under Haris Symeonidou, director of research at the National Social Research Center. According to findings, the number of Greek men who work is almost twice that of Greek working women (88 percent and 45 percent respectively). In couples where the man works equal hours to the woman, the study shows that men spend just half the amount of time with their children that women do and some 25 percent less time than their partners on household chores. Help from family Even though they have little assistance from their husbands, Greek women do receive a substantial amount of help from grandparents, who assume 46 percent of the children’s care. The result is the following paradox: While family structures are changing (decreasing birthrates, a greater number of people living together without getting married, higher divorce rates, single-parent households and extramarital births), traditional family values remain strong in Greece. In other words, while the relationship between the generations seems to be under threat, they are still counted upon for social integration. According to the study, higher education rates in men and women translate into a more positive view of women’s right to work and of men’s obligation to contribute to the running of the home. Nevertheless, this seems to apply only in theory, because Greek men do very little to help their partner when she returns home from work and assumes the role of mother and home keeper. Inevitably, women with a lower level of education and in jobs that pay them low wages will quit working more readily when they start a family. On the other hand, women who are more highly educated and have better jobs work more hours when they have children because leaving their work would put a bigger dent in the family budget than hiring someone else to care for the children and elderly family members, and to run the house. The endemic phenomenon of hiring third parties to help is not just attributed to men’s attitudes but also to the lack of a social support network and the significant fact that part-time employment has little if any institutional support from the Greek labor market. Unpaid labor One of the darkest sides of women’s employment in Greece is unpaid labor not in, but outside, the home. Greece has the highest rate in Europe of «off-the-books» women’s labor – 14.7 percent of women over 15 years of age work in the family business without pay. After working over 30 or 40 years first for their fathers and then for their husbands, these women do not have a single social security payment to their names or any source of income. The study also points to the possibility that many women take on small jobs that they can do from home for very little pay and no social security insurance. All of this, says the report, is happening in southern Europe, where part-time employment is not reinforced and non-working women’s right to a pension is negligible. Therefore, in Greece, where many of these women are either never paid or otherwise are paid off the books, divorce is a very difficult option to consider even when they have ample reason to. While Greek women, especially mothers, may have enhanced their participation in the labor force over the past few years, they still have a long road ahead before they achieve complete financial independence. The research on the manner in which work (paid and unpaid) is shared between men and women was conducted in Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal. Greece, Spain (data from other sources) and Italy record the lowest percentage of women’s participation in the work force. The cause and effect of this is that women take on the care of the home and family almost exclusively. Nevertheless, in all seven countries studied, the percentage of working fathers (96.7 percent) was significantly higher than working mothers (52.1 percent). The percentage of working mothers ranges from 75 percent in Portugal to 39 percent in Greece. Among working men, the percentage ranges from 99 percent in Portugal to 92 percent in France. Concerning hours spent at work, fathers in these countries clock up to 53 hours a week and mothers 19 hours a week. For salaried workers with at least one child aged under 7, the following has emerged: part-time employment is especially popular in the Netherlands among mothers who dedicate some 22 hours a week to this type of work. In France and Greece, mothers work 40 hours a week and in Portugal 46 hours. Fathers, on the other hand, work 56-58 hours a week in salaried jobs. Education levels The percentage of time spent at work among women reflects the educational levels of these women. In Greece, just 16.6 percent of mothers with a basic education are employed, while the percentage of working mothers with a university degree is 61.4 percent. On average in the rest of Europe, the numbers for working mothers are: 45 percent have a basic education, 48 percent have a high school or college education and 65 percent have at least one university degree. On a local community level, approval levels for mothers working outside the home are highest in Greece and lowest in the Netherlands. On a scale on 1-5, Greek men and women approved of mothers taking employment outside the home with a vote of 3.6, while in the Netherlands the number was 2.5. As the study states, a negative stance toward mothers seeking full-time employment is an indicator that in some countries – such as the Netherlands and Finland – the combination of tending to the home and family while also working is frowned upon, something which cannot be said of Greece. At the same time though, this stance proves that some states (such as the Netherlands and Finland) apply the necessary social support structures for such choices to be feasible, again in contrast to Greece.