B&Q, Tesco and John Lewis launch scheme to ‘unblock’ career progression for part-time workers

Unsecured household debt - which excludes mortgages - has reached the same level as just before the

Unsecured household debt - which excludes mortgages - has reached the same level as just before the financial crisis in 2008. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire - Credit: PA

A scheme is being launched to help 'unblock' career progression for part-time workers in the retail industry.

B&Q, COOK, Dixons Carphone, Tesco and the John Lewis Partnership are joining a drive to encourage greater flexible working opportunities in managerial jobs.

A 12-month pilot programme being run by flexible work group Timewise aims to identify operational constraints on working flexibly or part time in managerial roles, and how to redesign jobs to overcome them.

A lack of part time opportunities in retail management means employees often become 'trapped' by their need for flexibility, not by a lack of skills, and so are unable to progress their careers, said Timewise.

Over half of retail workers believe they are less likely to get promoted if they work part-time, and two thirds want a managerial job if they could maintain a flexible or part time working pattern, research has found.

Emma Stewart, joint chief executive of Timewise, said: 'Flexibility in working hours is one of the most important reasons why people choose to work in retail.

'With a post-Brexit labour market in sight, jobs designed with their people in mind is what will create a win-win situation for UK retailers - from being able to attract the best possible people, maximising the skills of their existing talent, ensuring career progression, and addressing challenges such as low productivity.'

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Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said: 'As the largest private sector employer in the UK with three million people working across retail and wholesale, the pay and progression of our staff is incredibly important to us.

'Flexibility is the second most important reason to work in retail, but in some cases this is a trade-off which may hold some people back from fulfilling their potential or optimising their pay.

'It is important that these part-time workers are able to progress within organisations when they choose to.'