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Ask HN: How do you scale salary for part-time work?
102 points by stepbeek on Aug 19, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 84 comments

How does your company scale salary/benefits for part-time work?


We're a small startup in the UK trying to figure out our hiring policies. An idea we've tossed around before is that since we offer remote work with fairly flexible hours, there's a terrific opportunity to hire people who are taking a career break due to their personal life (young children etc).

Our perceived benefit is:

* we're getting access to a talent pool that might otherwise be ignored

* the offerings that are very possible as a small company (remote, flexible hours, easy access to management) are far more impactful to someone in this situation

* we have a future opportunity to let our bandwidth grow

The cost of two part-time employees isn't quite the same as one full-time, since we incur about the same fixed costs anyway (management time in 1-2-1's, payroll administration, dev setup etc). So we're wondering if cutting the salary in half is actually what we want to do?

I've mostly worked in public-sector bureaucracies, not software companies, so my experiences won't line up exactly. In each case, the rule has been strictly pro-rata.

I've generally felt that the company has had the good end of that deal, especially for the higher fractions (0.6/0.8 of full time): productivity seems to me to be non-linear, and trading off the end-of-the-week burnout for a little more payroll admin and management sounds great. Where the fraction is much smaller, the increase in coordination costs probably means that it's more finely balanced.

The other point I'd make is that less than pro-rata will sound unfair to your part-timers, whether the intentions and justification are good or not. And defending that isn't a hill I'd die on: in skilled jobs staff goodwill is a precious commodity not to be squandered.

There may also be legal issues: I suspect that lower rates for part-timers would be unlawful indirect sex discrimination in the UK (the part-time workforce being female to a much greater extent) but that may well not be true where you are.

I mostly agree, although it's worth noting that there are probably some fixed overheads of being employed that eat up some of the otherwise expected benefits. Let's consider a scenario where there are 4h average fixed overhead for working at a company. Now let's run the 0.6 time vs. 1.0 time scenarios.

1.0 time. 40h - 4h overhead = 36h. Pay = 1. Work-to-pay ratio is 36h:1p.

0.6 time. 24h - 4h overhead = 20h. Pay = 0.6. Work to pay ratio is 33h:1p. You'd have to suppose that the 0.6 time worker is at least 1.1x as productive per hour just to break even. If you provide benefits that don't scale with fractional work you need even more of a productivity edge to justify it.

The corollary of this is that you'd really better make sure you have little fixed overhead time for your workers if they are working fractional time.

>You'd have to suppose that the 0.6 time worker is at least 1.1x as productive per hour just to break even.

IMO that is easily achievable. Probably an underestimation. People who work for 6 hours, 4 days a week are going to be vastly more concentrated and rested. Physical labor might be different, but jobs that require mainly mental effort/creativity will benefit a lot from being rested.

Wasn't there a company that tried 30 hour work weeks for everyone and production stayed almost equal?

Who says they will rest in the downtime?

> The corollary of this is that you'd really better make sure you have little fixed overhead time for your workers if they are working fractional time.

That was one of the big things that me working part-time on a team helped with: they significantly cut down on the mandatory meeting overhead; early on a significant fraction of my time (40%?) was spent in meetings. We cut that down and everyone on the team benefited.

Not enough people are brave enough to just walk out of non-useful meetings.

By demanding an agenda upfront, attendees can decide if it's really useful to attend, and sending out notes afterwards means people who didn't attend can catch up. As a bonus, send the agenda beforehand with collaborative editing, and lots of things end up getting resolved before the meeting even happens.

We're in the UK. I think the lower bound of this from our perspective is 50%, though wondered whether it would be perceived as willfully ignoring that productivity is non-linear.

To be honest, I hadn't really considered the legal ramifications: I'm hoping if I behave fairly then I can avoid having to think too hard.

Citizen's Advice lists requiring all employees to work full time as an example of indirect sex discrimination, so by advertising part time jobs you may be protecting yourself.

Interesting, could you link to that and/or explain it, against whom is it sex discrimination.

I know that in the UK the "wage gap" favours women in part-time work according to the National Statistics Office .

Having read that now, I'm still not sure who it's supposed to be discriminating against?

If a parent, say, gets refused part-time hours, how does their sex alter the effect of that refusal?

Women are more likely to desire part time hours because they are always the ones who are getting pregnant and typically the ones raising small children.

Isn't it a private matter for a woman to decide whether to raise a child or not - regardless of the common good child rearing brings - assuming women raise children is wrong, and sexist too.

There's statutory parental leave to cover pregnancy already.

To mimic your response: men are the ones with the muscles, they are _typically_ stronger therefore we should discriminate.

Seems wrong.

(I'm just returning to my former work as my last child enters institutional schooling, and am male. There's a lot of discrimination here.)

> assuming women raise children is wrong, and sexist too.

I have no need to assume this because this is actually the case. This is reality today. When women stop being the primary ones raising the children then there will no longer be a need to be protections aiding them in finding part time work, but that is for some hypothetical future.


I think you mean "requiring all employees to work full time..."

Yes, edited.

I agree. I work 0.8 time (4 days a week) in the UK and am paid pro rata.

I think it balances out well, even aside from the fairness question.

It costs my employer benefits and admin, but they probably get quite close to the same amount of work as 1.0 because many people working 1.0 waste 0.2 of their time anyway.

Not familiar with UK employment practices, but: do the businesses pay any benefits to part-time employees?

Our benefits are all things that wouldn't make sense to take away from a part-time employee to be honest.

We don't offer private health care currently, and every other benefit is a pretty direct link to how productive that employee is - technical books, better work environment etc.

For instance, we do a "wonder week" once a quarter to work on side projects/learning etc. To me, not letting a part-time employee do this would be to treat it as a kind of bonus, when instead we view it as an opportunity to explore ideas and skill up.

Benefits are a much smaller part of the package. Health coverage, for example, is nationally provided. For most of my employers, the main benefits would be vacation (which would be pro-rata), pension (ditto), and sick leave (effectively ditto, as it pays out based on actual salary). There are some much smaller fringe benefits (gym discounts, say) which would be given regardless of hours worked, but I'm not sure that would make a material difference.

For high-end jobs you might get private health coverage (or, under earlier tax regimes, a company car). I'm not sure how they are normally handled.

One interesting thing about pro-rata vacation for anyone thinking about going to part time: you still get exactly the same number of weeks off regardless.

The trick to that I will leave as an exercise to the reader. It's something I was thrilled to discover by accident.

> The trick to that I will leave as an exercise to the reader.

Huh? Sorry, I'm not following.

Sorry. Didn't mean to be coy. But, to make the math easier, imagine a full timer 25 days of vacation per year = five weeks. Great.

Now let's say that person goes down to 80% time, working four days a week. Now they only earn 25 days * 80% = 20 days of vacation per year. But this person only works four days a week. So to spend a full week away only requires using up four vacation days. (20 days of vacation) / (4 days/week) = five weeks. Great.

Ah, thanks. This only works if you work fewer days per week as opposed to fewer hours per day.

don't know about you but my vacation days are calculated per hour. hence people sometimes take half a day off

It is a sex discrimination if you offer different conditions based on sex, not on hours worked. If part time workers have the same offer no matter the sex, then it is quite bizarre to build a sex discrimination case.

In Britain, it's definitely something you need to watch out for.

> indirect discrimination - putting rules or arrangements in place that apply to everyone, but that put someone with a protected characteristic at an unfair disadvantage

(from https://www.gov.uk/discrimination-your-rights/how-you-can-be...).

There have definitely been cases around aspects of part-time working which have been held to be indirect discrimination because men are (were?) overwhelmingly full-time and women not.

It is also possible to make a justification defence for indirect discrimination, though I don't know 'how good' your justification would need to be.

The same thing exists in the US, we call it "disparate impact".

You might also ask yourself if a person working half the time is half as productive. There is evidence to support the idea that a person working a bit less per week can actually maintain the same weekly output: https://4dayweek.com

In any case, I run a job board and newsletter for companies and job candidates who want flexible working hours: https://30hourjobs.com

Please feel free (as in free beer!) to post jobs on the job board! And if you're interested in being featured in the newsletter as well please feel free to email me at nick@30hourjobs.com.

I am working 3days per week these days and I believe I produce equal amount as I did in 4 days before. Note I worked 5 days before, but my effectiveness was lower because I didn't want to burnout. With 3 days a week it's easy to give your 100% and be chill next few days.

What I want to say is, that I am way more motivated and I think I am better value for money than on 5 days work weeks.

I would advise you to just make it pro-rata. Don't fiddle around and worry about the relative pocket-change of overheads. You will save yourself lots of headaches, and my experience is that you will get more value out of two employees working 20 hours a week than you will out of one employee working 40 hours. It all evens out in the end.

Aside: I really want to encourage you to do this. In my previous job, I went to 40% time so I could spend 60% on my startup. This let me make enough money to get by, while freeing up a huge amount of time. This was incredibly valuable, and the experience of working part-time like that will be something I will definitely consider in the future when personal circumstances (like children) make it desirable, and I think I was contributing more than 40% of my previous full-time value.

Hey, I have a few questions if you don't mind I am working 30 hour work week. I recently switched jobs and I consider myself a strong candidate.

In nearly all of my interviews, as soon as I mentioned wishing to work 30 hours (because I want to have time to sharpen my skills in my other 10 hours, which I always sold as a positive feedback loop which helps me be more knowlegable at work), the HR admin/recruiter would go all deer in the headlights, promise to check and get back to me and promptly ghost me.

Luckily I found a place where the CTO appreciated my reasoning. I am just wondering whether my approach was incorrect or whether reduced hours is just really unheard of where I am (southern EU)

I think you're being too honest. I wouldn't blink at any of my employees spending an hour a day at continued education, self improvement, etc. 2 hours a day... Might be pushing it a bit. The 1/he a day is for non-directly work related things that might come up later (i.e., learning network programming or systems or databases, whatever), whereas if you are claiming to make yourself better at your current taskset... There's nothing better than actually DOING that.

Anyway, all that to say that if my employees spent only 35hr/wk being productive with the other 5 for learning, I'd consider that a fine allocation.

Edit: actually not even 35hr, I just can't quite bring myself to support a blanket 2hr a day for this specific non-business productive activity. 35hr/wk of productivity is a bit of a pipe dream

Your mistake was talking to an HR person. They are bureaucrats who understand nothing about our craft and only look for obvious reasons to disqualify you. Your goal is to say as little as possible and get past HR quickly to talk to an actual technical person who can make the appropriate trade-offs. You could be the next Donald Knuth and HR would still reject you for 4-day week because to them you look like [any other shmug + extra burocracy].

Why 30?, that just seems like a strange number.

Assuming 8 hour work days, 32 seems a more obvious choice. You get 1 day/week off.

I've always started at 40, then negotiated down to 36, then to 32 at the same salary whenever offered a raise. If you're having a hard time finding a job, maybe tough it out for a year then negotiate for less hours when you've proven yourself. Obviously helps to be working for smaller companies which tend to be more flexible.

Actually, it seems very logical.

I would do 3 days at 10 hr per day, and 2 days on other stuff. Personally, I would prefer full days slots rather than a few hours free per day

Makes sense to me. 30hrs/week is 6 hours everyday for 5 days

At a guess, I'd say that it's just anything out of the ordinary scares people a bit!

Taking someone on part-time for a traditionally full-time role maybe does involve some additional trust. Maybe a more sustainable approach would be to start full-time, and look at moving to a part-time situation after settling in?

Divulge this after the interview at the offer stage once they've decided they want you. How much you work is a negotiation concern just like salary.

Unfortunately, many companies are very square when it comes to part-time work :-/

If a company said to me were dropping your rate because your part time then I’d be insulted. OTOH hiring is opaque enough that a company could hide that from me and say we’re offering X without letting on they applied a part timer tax.

Remember the downside: Knowledge sharing and communication.

Think of a company going from 1 to 2 people. You go from the entire app in 1 persons head, to having to communicate and talk about decisions. There is a reason solo founders can do some really good things.

Now imagine going from 5 to 10 people. The communication web of the two are different. 4 possible communication points vs 9.

What about meetings and discussions? Are people working the same days? Does it take 3 days to get your PR reviewed because X and Y are not in on Mondays or Tuesdays?

All of this is not so say this is a bad idea. Maybe it's great. Just things to think about. I think it can have some good upsides, but it can also lead to some very negative things.

> Now imagine going from 5 to 10 people. The communication web of the two are different. 4 possible communication points vs 9.

Or if you measure communication needs by number of conversational pairs, it goes from 10 to 45!

As the company gets bigger this becomes less of an issue because there is communication overhead anyway. And don't forget the other side of the coin: As you increase the number of employees you decrease the risk of a bad hire and similarly the risk of knowledge gaps when an employee leaves. There are already so many inefficiencies; Even if two people each working 20h are less efficient than one person working 40h, this difference will be negligable.

I respectfully disagree. While there is communication overhead, it really does scale with the number of people you have to communicate with. If you have twice the people working half the time, you still have twice the communication cost.

Moreover, the communication overhead will eat up a much larger percentage of working time, since the person is only working half time. But you can't just communicate half as much. Any fixed overhead, such as status meetings, breaks, etc will suffer from the same effect.

Then there's the concept of flow. It's hard to get into a high productive state doing something like programming if you are working 4 hours a day, and 1 hour a day is overhead. Even if you get into that zone, you will benefit from it for a short period of time. For me, it can easily take half an hour to get my mind back to where I was on the previous day.

Ramping up and learning a codebase is also an overhead, and will take longer in terms of days (since you aren't working as long), take communication time, and then once you are an expert, you'll bring a smaller amount of time to bear against the problem.

In terms of teams, having a larger team (2x as large, let's say) means that you will get more good hires and more bad hires. But bad hires are far more of a problem than good hires, especially if they spend all the time communicating, asking questions, and making work for others. One bad hire can ruin a team. One good hire really cannot make a bad team into a good team.

All of this assumes also that all the part time people are working at the same time and able to communicate, which almost certainly won't be the case. Part time workers will not always be able to communicate, and may have to wait a while for an answer, further reducing productivity.

It's not only not negligible, but I worry it's not scalable.

My company (Big4) has 2 versions of part-time.

If >=50% time, you get full benefits, and salary/bonus/stock is pro-rated at whatever percentage you work. Due to the way the stock vests for part-time, I've heard this ends up being ~10% more pay cut than time cut (80% time == ~70% pay).

<50% you lose a lot of the core benefits (healthcare, 401k, etc.), but I doubt anyone really does this except people who are basically retired.

But +1, big fan of companies that support part-time. I think most companies view it as a benefit basically like parental leave, etc., so it's a way of recruiting/retaining talent and are willing to eat some of the fixed cost.

I think this is a good thing - in fact I'm sharing my specifics with you because I think it could help out others.

I have 20 years professional experience. Systems admin -> DBA -> software developer, with lots of overlap with each role change.

Job #1, 20 hours a week, no set schedule. $115k USD salary, no benefits. Yearly bonus is 5-15%. Less than 50 employees.

Job #2 30 hours a week, set schedule, $122k USD salary, full benefits. Yearly bonus is 2-6%. Less than 500 employees.

Both job titles are senior level software-related things.

That's a interesting combination, especially to the benefits. Is that because you are only entitled to received benefits from only one salaried position?

As long as the UK is in the EU, the EU rules apply. https://europa.eu/youreurope/business/human-resources/employ...:

”Equal employment conditions

You must offer your part‑time staff the same employment conditions as full-time workers, including pay, leave, notice periods and other rights and benefits linked to their employment.

Modifying working arrangements

Whenever possible, you should try to accommodate requests from your employees if they want to change their working schedules, such as:

- transferring from full-time to part-time

- transferring from part-time to full-time

- increasing their working hours

You cannot dismiss an employee if they refuse to transfer from part-time to full-time work or vice versa.”

As they have lots of ‘fairly urgent’ matter at hand, I don’t see the UK change this soon, but who knows?

If the Tories get Brexit then this could be one of the first changes, Raab MP - a cabinet member - is on record as saying he wants all workers rights removed (I assume he's a proponent of completely free markets but I'm just rationalising his position because it seems abjectly immoral to me and I daren't consider what other forces might be directing the country).

If you are paying contractor rates, then that makes sense of course.

For a permanent hire I think it would be reasonable to ask more than half. Even working 50% hours, one does not usually completely unplug during other half - even if not active on corporate systems it's likely they're taking problems away and thinking them over.

I think you may be surprised by the output you get - when I have worked with part time technical staff in the past, it often seems to help grant a laser focus of sorts.

This is a really good point. I don't think I'd given enough weight to this offline processing before.

The way I've thought about it is when I'm "salaried" I'm being paid for my brain, not my time, and this cuts both ways; if I can meet the goals the company has set for me in 5 hours, that's all the time I'm going to take. However, if I need 50 hours to figure something out, that's what I'll do.

The understanding I expect to have with my employer is that I expect them not to give me more work than I can reasonably do in ~40 hours, on average. It's not a cut and dry calculus, but if I feel I'm being given more work than I agree to do, that starts a conversation.

I could see the role you're looking to fill being something similar; the agreement you have with the employee is that you, the employer, won't put more things on their plate than they can generally handle in 2-3 days of working each week.

”we're wondering if cutting the salary in half is actually what we want to do”

Sounds like a good plan IMHO.

By the way, lots of kudos to you for allowing your employees to work part-time! As a dad who stays at home half-time and works half-time, I think it’s great with companies who recognise that this is a very good benefit to offer.

It's an interesting problem. A thing you might keep in mind is that rate scaling with billable time is situational; in some fields, part time might pay lower, but in others, especially in specialized tech fields, "part time" work actually pays (on a billable increment basis) more than full-time work.

As others have written, simply scaling based on hours (assuming part-time is somewhere between 2-4 days per week) is pretty defensible and most people would see it as fair.

Benefits are probably the hard thing. You're UK so health insurance is presumably not as big a deal as it would be in the US--although employers do offer supplementary private insurance. But a lot of benefits like disability probably don't scale with salary. So you'd have to look at those numbers or simply take some benefits for non-fulltime (or less than X%) employees off the table.

I'd personally not apply if you were trying to offer less than half. I think bean counting at that point is a little excessive, especially given how much more productive your part time hours should be on average. In the past when I've contracted and had more or less part time arrangements, I've always felt far more capable, productive, and engaged. Definitely offer half of the compensation.

Anecdotally, of the 4 days/week people I've worked with, there was never any thought that adding a fifth marginal day to their week would yield commensurate productivity returns. Value for money, the 4-day week constraint keeps people busy enough to actually get things done fast.

I don't know what their difference in comp was, but my impression each time was they had negotiated the 4-day week against the cost of a consultant. e.g. As an employer, maybe you want to pay an employee $120k/y salary. To replace that employee with a contractor will cost you $220k/year. The employees pitch was, given what it would cost and what they can make consulting, they would take the offered $120k salary for a 4-day/week role.

It's a question of value, not scaling to hours.

Take your average $120k/yr job. That's based on a 40 hour work week, right? 260 working days in a year. Couple that with roughly 9 paid holidays, and you're looking at around 250 working days a year at 8 hours a day. 2,000 hours worked in a year at $120k/yr = $60/hr

20 days worth of PTO seems to be about the norm in the industry for when you start a new job. I'm not sure how to factor that in here. If you subtract it from days worked, it means the average person would only be working 1,840 hours a year, bringing the hourly wage up to about $65.

I'd multiply some number between $60-65 by the number of hours of productivity you want a week. 24 hour part time job? Half the PTO then, still give benefits. Should sell like hotcakes.

I was about to correct you that in the U.S., the starting PTO might be more like 10 or 15 days...but then remembered that this is all in the UK. (Man, i really dislike the U.S.' version of capitalism.)

Otherwise, great inputs on the costs you referenced; cheers!

I also bundled in "sick" with "personal" and "vacation" because I've seen US companies do away with all of the distinctions and just say "here's 20 days a year, do what you want with them. You'll get more next year."

Unfortunately that's pretty common. Old-line companies (including in tech) often still have the sick-time/vacation distinction but my impression is that it's relatively uncommon in newer companies. It has to some degree been replaced with "unlimited" vacation but that comes with its own set of issues.

What issues does that come with, in your opinion?

There isn't a defined number of days that you're "entitled" to. Not that the entitlement is always taken or that people always feel comfortable taking it, but at least it's there. (And, personally, I've essentially always taken my earned vacation.)

I don't necessarily have a problem with unlimited/unmetered vacation. It means you don't get a payout if you leave a company but I don't really have a problem with that. However, I do think it puts the onus on management to set clear and reasonable expectations around vacation--which hopefully are what I would consider reasonable.

If I were to entertain an offer with an unlimited vacation company, I would expect HR or the hiring manager to be able to answer the question: "Is 4-6 weeks of vacation considered reasonable?"

ADDED: I'm not complaining about downvotes but I'm genuinely curious what someone finds objectionable or controversial about this comment.

Not parent but unlimited vacation policy is often criticised as a way to bully people into taking even less vacation. Since you can’t know how much is “okay” you end up in a guilt trip if you take more than some colleague.

Hence my point that there needs to be clear top-down setting of expectations. If you have company management that looks on "unlimited" vacation as a way to avoid having to pay out accrued vacation if an employee leaves combined with a way to grudgingly allow a day off here and there when it's convenient for the company... That's going to be a very bad fit with an employee who sees it as an opportunity to take a couple months off every year.

I recently dropped from full to half time (due to small kids). I dont think my output has dropped by half though, especially since I come back to the office well rested, instead of needing a half dozen cups of coffee before being able to read code. Given that, I wouldn't accept being paid less than 50% for half time work.

I would echo, though, other commenters that for the same hours two people require communication that one wouldn't. On the other hand, that can encourage good practices (docs, sane style, passing tests) instead of 10x syndrome.

I forgot to add: part time remote is my dream work arrangement so I would definitely apply if it was sufficiently well paid, stable proposition (not a 6 month contractor towards full timer thing)

Note: Please let me know if this is not suitable for this thread, and I'll delete this.

If you are open to BE devs in GMT +0530, I am currently on a break to take care of my aging/sick family, and looking for a parttime remote role.

Contact information on my profile page.

FYI: Your about page is empty, so no contact info is displayed. E-mail addresses on HN are not public. If you want to display contact info, you need to put it in the about field. (To see what it looks like to others, start incognito mode in your browser and surf to https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=random42)

Thanks, Done.

I think that part-time is very attractive to a lot of potential employees and you are dipping into an under-utilized talent pool. As with any role, you just have to find the right people. I had a 50% time engineer for a while who was more productive than the full-timer whom he replaced. In another role I had a full-timer who was measurably less productive than someone at 60% time.

Scale the salaries pro-rata. At around 60-70% time this works out very well for employers as you have a very focused worker who appreciates the flexibility.

Yeah, if you're not offering me 75% pay for 50% work I'm not interested. My peak productivity is 3 days a week. The gains from working more than that are marginal at best.

Are you offline for the other two days? It may not affect you much but "You can't schedule meetings with me or get answers to questions on Monday or Friday" tends to have an impact on other people in most jobs.

Do you get 75% pay for 50% work? Based on no particular experience, it seems that would be difficult to sell.

I've found that folk ask better questions if I reduce my availability.

I get paid considerably more than 75% for 50% _time_. [1] Mainly because I'm in a position where I get paid by the value of my work rather than by the amount of time I waste behind a computer monitor.

[1] My bad. I should have said time instead of work.

Talk to your accountant.

I would say, that for people wanting i.e. 3 day weekend, or 6 hour days, agreeing on the 4/5 or 3/4 salary is reasonably simple (I even managed to use this in my salary negotiation, where they offered me X$ for full time, and I managed to negotiate 85% X for 4/5 part-time)

The extra day/two hours are not as big of a difference in productivity anyway :)

I would say there is bigger difference in below 3/5 part-time, and in companies I have been at, there is assumption that people with less than 3/5 part-times are sort-of on extended trainig? I.e. summer project -> internship -> part-time -> full time progression was expected over ~2 years.

If you can, and your regulatory environment allows it, look for other means of employment.

You could help your new highers become self-employed and then have just an agreement for billable-hours, but you can easily break the regulations for social security payments this way.

In my country we have 'agreement about commisioned work', that is somewhere in the middle between being fully employed, and being self employed, but with some aditional constraints on maximum billable-hours per month? I don't remember, do consult your accountant responsible for payroll :-)

My employer does this in an unusual way that has some benefits.

Full time workers are able to reduce as low as 50%, but you basically buy leave credits with the prorata salary reduction. So if it was ok from an operational standpoint, you could work 85% and take the summer off. Or you could flex days as appropriate.

Below 50% is a transition to part-time which has other complexities.

Personally, I’d look to make a part time professional in the US a contractor, as the benefits of being a 1099 are probably better.

Not a company, but I think direct scaling based on time is about as fair as you can get.

An employee that works 4 days is likely to produce more than 80% of the output of someone who works 5 days, all else being equal, so even though fixed costs may not scale down, payment per "unit work" should remain constant.

This may not hold if you went down to, say, 1 day per week.

You're seriously considering paying part-time employees less per hour than full-time employees? Am I really reading that right?

Sorry, I was a little ambiguous. We're not considering paying less per unit time. This is fully illegal in the UK even if we did consider it.

What we are considering is whether a part-time employee is significantly more productive per unit time to such an extent that pro-rated pay would be considered unfair.

Pro rata is considered fair. On the same way that overtime pay is considered fair if you have to work extra hours.

yep - all of the upside none of the downside.

If you could get this to work, pivot and build a recruitment/jobs startup.

just pay hourly, it scales perfectly..

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