Juggling work with bringing up children can be a challenge.

One way of dealing with the balancing act might be to work for yourself – and it seems many people are turning self-employed as a route to part-time work and more flexibility to deal with other commitments.

Analysis of the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) by Citizens Advice has identified a huge rise in the number of self-employed people working part-time hours, which has risen by more than a third (36%) since 2010 to 1.35 million, outstripping growth in all other employment types.

This compared to a 7% rise in full-time employment, a 5% rise in part-time employment, and an increase of 13% for the number of self-employed people working full-time.

The charity identified two key trends in working-age people who are self-employed and work part-time hours.

It found that women are more likely to be self-employed and work part-time rather than full time, making up two thirds of people who work part-time for themselves, compared to just one in five people who are full-time self-employed.

Secondly, the number of parents with a dependent child who are now working for themselves on a part-time basis has gone up by 30% and parents now make up just over half of all part-time self-employed people of working age. 

Citizens Advice's analysis found that in four out of five cases, self-employed people working part time didn’t want full-time hours.

Citizens Advice wants to see extra support for self-employed people. Image by ShaunWilkinson/Shutterstock.com

The charity believes some people are becoming self-employed as a route to working part time, giving them the flexibility to juggle a job with other commitments like looking after their children or caring for relatives.

Working for yourself on a part-time basis can be the ideal solution for many juggling work and family commitments

Gillian Guy, chief executive, Citizens Advice
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But while going self-employed and working part time can offer more flexibility, it can also mean the loss of other benefits.

Women who work for an employer get higher levels of maternity support than those who work for themselves, and men receive paternity pay.

Citizens Advice research has revealed that many self-employed people are reluctant to take time off work after the birth of a child, for fear of losing income or clients.

Figures show that more than a third (37%) of part-time self-employed parents take a week or less off work after the birth of their child, compared to fewer than one in five (16%) part-time employed people.

Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “Part-time self-employment makes up the smallest yet fastest-growing part of our workforce.

“Working for yourself on a part-time basis can be the ideal solution for many juggling work and family commitments.

“As the labour market continues to change, support systems need to adapt and meet the needs of the growing number of people choosing to be self-employed and work part-time hours.

“New parents who are self-employed face a particular challenge - mothers get limited maternity support after the birth of a child, while fathers to new babies and anyone adopting receives no support at all.”