Single parents, students, retirees and husband-wife teams looking for permanent part-time jobs or job-sharing opportunities with Uncle Sam should find easier, better hunting this year.
The government will shift to streamlined screening and hiring in selected agencies to make it easier to find and hire people genuinely interested in working two or three days a week.
There are about 50,000 permanent part-time federal jobs. About half of them were created since the Carter administration directd agencies to increase the number of 16-to 32-hour-a-week jobs. The new system that will begin in April (but will not get going well until midsummer) could add 5,000 or more part-time jobs, including 1,500 or more here.
In addition to speeding hiring by letting agencies recruit and do most of their own paper work, federal officials hope the new systems will attract more people who are genuinely interested in part-time work. Currently the turnover rate for permanent part-time jobs is between 50 and 70 percent as a stopgap measure until full-time work becomes available.
In a recent test one agency advertised the same job twice: once as a full-time position and once as a part-time job. It found a large number of people applied for both jobs, an indication that many who said they were interested in "part-time" only actually wanted full-time work. The new system may require part-timers to agree to work for at least 12 months before they shift to full-time jobs.
Aby April the Office of Personnel Management expects to have a list of departments and agencies that want to participate in the program by hiring their own part-timers. OPM will continue to recruit part-time applicants for agencies. But it hopes most job hunters will go directly to the department or agency where they want to work, rather than get on OPM lists and registers and wait until their name is referred to an agency.
OPM also will publish lists of agencies that directly hire part-timers, and tell what grades, pay ranges and types of jobs each has available. Lists wil be available at OPM and federal job centers, and also are targeted for groups most likely to include people interested in permanent, part-time work.
The biggest shot in the arm for part-time hiring will come in October as the result of an accounting change. Beginning then, agencies will be allowed to count employes on a prorated basis on the number of hours they work. Part-timers now are counted the same as full-time workers workers.
That keeps some managers from hiring part-timers because it artificially inflates their employment rolls. The new system will make it more attractive to hire part-timers and cause some agencies to restructure jobs for people who cannot work full 40-hour weeks.