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Temporary work in the public services: Implications for equal opportunities

Conley, Hazel


Hazel Conley
Professor in Human Resource Management


This article examines the impact of the growing number of temporary employment contracts in the public sector on equal opportunity theory, policy and practice. Quantitative and qualitative data from two case study local authorities are utilized to examine the mechanisms by which temporary work becomes an equal opportunities issue. A strong association between part-time work and temporary employment status is demonstrated as an important aspect of the gendered nature of temporary work. Links between ethnicity and temporary work are less clear but are based upon the insecurity of targeted funding for teachers and the under-valuation of the skills of the workers concerned. The data indicate that temporary workers are largely excluded from equal opportunity policy and practice, bringing into question a concept of equality that can permit less favourable treatment for certain groups of workers. It is argued that public sector restructuring, particularly concerning decentralization and the quest for flexibility, has facilitated the differential treatment of employees, thereby fundamentally eroding the basis of equal opportunity policy and practice.


Conley, H. (2003). Temporary work in the public services: Implications for equal opportunities. Gender, Work and Organization, 10(4), 455-477.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Aug 1, 2003
Journal Gender, Work and Organization
Print ISSN 0968-6673
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 10
Issue 4
Pages 455-477
Keywords temporary work, teaching, social services, equality
Public URL
Publisher URL