Have you had to sacrifice your career (and accordingly wage) in order to work flexibly?

(100 Posts)
Wytchhazel1 Mon 21-Jul-08 17:43:08

Many of my mum mates and i are looking to go back to work because we need the money, but most haven't been able to get jobs at the same level/pay scale that are part time.Personally i have taken a 40% pro rata pay drop and had to ditch my career in order to be able to work part time. Is this a waste of 9 years of my working life and a waste for the job market too? Does having a baby send you immediately to the bottom of the job pile if you can't go back to your old employer?

Whizzz Mon 21-Jul-08 17:52:36

I requested flexible working and then condensed hours but was turned down for both. Not long after, my job was effectively made redundant & I was offered job share with another female with children which I turned down as the hours were too short & then took redundancy. A male with grown up kids is now doing my original full time job. Coincidence - I think not.
I have ditched my career of 20 years & am now a TA, very happy & much less stressed - although very lowly paid!

I think sometimes it can be very hard
One mother I know only applied for full time jobs because there weren't any part-time jobs at the level which she needed, and then at second interview stage would broach the prospect of doing 3-4 day week if they seemed a flexible company.
I have a 'family-friendly' job with flexible hours, but get less salary for the pleasure.
I think laterally and have lots of different jobs with differing skill needs, keeps me interested and professionally I develop. Also keeps my options open.

Wytchhazel1 Mon 21-Jul-08 17:56:29

I'm going to be a TA too! Looking forward to it but I loved my old job and we are really going to miss my old wage. Glad you are happier but that seems really unfair.

sarah293 Mon 21-Jul-08 17:57:48

DH had to change to part time when dd was born as Ineed him to look after her. No way will he ever get promoted etc working p/t.

But I would love the next level up role in my job, very rare for part-time positions to come up.
I have the talent and drive, plus the experience.
It's a pity, it cost a lot to train me.

Whizzz Mon 21-Jul-08 17:59:26

Can I also just add that I am primarily a TA because I wanted to work with kids & not because it was 'an easy option' re: school hols. Sorry but it's a bit of a soapbox issue with me grin

Anna8888 Mon 21-Jul-08 18:01:45

It's a huge issue - that needs to be resolved - that part-time work is rarely interesting/responsible/well-paid, yet a massive number of families would like for one of their two adult members to be able to work part-time in order to meet the family's absolute requirement for care and logistics, while still also bringing in an income.

morningpaper Tue 22-Jul-08 10:53:51

Yes, I basically had to start from scratch again. It's very frustrating. I had a decent job/career/pension (project management) but have done none of that since having DD1 six years ago. You can WORK part-time but it's pretty hard to have a CAREER part-time, IME.

morningpaper Tue 22-Jul-08 10:54:39

On the plus side, experienced part-time women are pretty much running the charity sector - so the charity sector gets a lot done because of this!

Backgammon Tue 22-Jul-08 11:35:43

Slightly different angle from me, but I'm on a regular full-time homeworker contract. It means I make occasional trips to regional offices for meetings but am pretty much at home.

Many, many jobs have come up at work which would involve a promotion - but when I ask about the possibility of doing them as a regular homeworker I'm always told I would have to spend 3 x days a week in London. With a baby on the way and no family support plus the commute to consider it would leave me financially worse off, plus it would require me to use levels of childcare that I personally would rather not.

In that sense, my career has and will stagnate probably at least for the next 6 years. I'm prepared to accept that as I know I'm very lucky to be able to work from home. But flexible working has definitely halted my career progression.

LittleBella Tue 22-Jul-08 11:41:17

Can't function as an employee and a mother in the industry I was in. Had to get a couple of very undemanding low paid jobs at a much lower level so that I could work PT. Now have a really interesting engaging pt job, but still ludicrously low wage compared to what I was earning pre children. (And being subsidised by tax credits.)

Wouldn't do the ft stuff anymore though. I love having a proper work life balance.

Fennel Tue 22-Jul-08 11:50:02

I have certainly stagnated my career by working around the children so much, yes. Though it's as much about the hours worked as the flexible working, everyone in my job works flexibly but they also often work pretty long hours. I am in a sort of mummy-track limbo. Fantastic work-life balance but reduced career options.

Hopefully I have not utterly trashed it in the long term but it's hard to say at the moment.

iBundle Tue 22-Jul-08 11:52:58

yes this has happened to me but I chose to do it - I'd rather sacrifice kudos/money than time with my children.

Backgammon Tue 22-Jul-08 11:53:42

Ditto iBundle.

llareggub Tue 22-Jul-08 11:55:10

I work part-time in a role that I did pre-pregnancy. Essentially, I have the same workload, work 20 odd hours a week at a time to suit the needs of the organisation and my own circumstances.

Obviously my salary is pro-rata, because my salary is based on time. It is irritated because my workload, projects etc are the same as previously. It just takes me a little longer to get things done.

Currently I am finding my job interesting, challenging and adds to my CV. I do find myself idly searching agencies for a new role, but don't go for bigger jobs because of the flexibility I currently have. I'm very lucky to have the working conditions and interesting job that I have, and at the moment am quite happy to stay where I am.

I have at least another 30 odd working years left, plenty of time to develop my career or alternatively find a new path to follow.

vonsudenfed Tue 22-Jul-08 11:56:58

Me, same as the last four posts...

TigerFeet Tue 22-Jul-08 12:01:02

Same as iBundle

I am about to go part time (at long last - it has been a long time coming) and will take the appropriate pro-rata salary cut. My career will definitely stall but I am happy with that for the time being. I have a nice balance of responsibility with ability to be flexible. My salary won't be much to write home about but combined with dh's salary we will not be on the bread line. That's good enough for me.

2fedup Tue 22-Jul-08 12:05:38

well, I have just got promoted,(yeah me!) but having worked part-time with varying ours between 3 or 4 days over the past ten years, I'm a grade below the other people who started the same time as me. I feel I have been given less opportunities to prove myself and have had to work that much harder for recognition over the years as I'm not always around.

You can still have a career, but it will be a different one to the someone who works full-time. I think I lot depends on your line managers attitude, which is unfair, but true

WideWebWitch Tue 22-Jul-08 12:07:56

I was a sahm for 4 years and it definitely damaged my 'career' not that it was a career, it was justa job but an ok paid one. I've now got back to my former earning rate but only after 4 years of working pretty hard and making some major sacrifices, eg working away from home for 6 months.

llareggub Tue 22-Jul-08 13:11:55

If one more person utters the words "ah, but you only work part-time" I'll eat my hat.

Everyone does it. Colleagues, family, friends, and me, when I'm not concentrating.

batters Tue 22-Jul-08 13:13:42


And don't regret it for one moment .

freshprincess Tue 22-Jul-08 13:56:04

I went back to my old job but for 4 days a week, I got 4/5 salary but not 4/5 workload which I think happens in lots of companies not just where I worked.

Your career is def affected if you want to work part time - most employers seem to want full time permanent staff. If you're part time, then you are somehow not serious about your career.

Tinker Tue 22-Jul-08 21:23:55

Not sure I have really. I'm sure I'd still be at the same grade if I was full-time (non-ambitious under-achiever)

PerkinWarbeck Tue 22-Jul-08 21:27:35

Yup. I've been knocked back from going on training as apparently work can't afford for me to have time out of the office as I'm "only part time" hmm. This is a course I'll need in order to get promotion. So promotion's out of the window until I go back full-time.

wasabipeanut Tue 22-Jul-08 21:34:15

I was very lucky actually and managed to blag going from a full time sales role to a part time marketing position 3 days a week which I enjoy more than my old job.

Am aware this is the exception rather than the rule and am incredibly grateful that I managed to persuade my employer to take a chance.

WideWebWitch Thu 24-Jul-08 09:19:44

that's discriminatory imo PerkinW.

motherinferior Thu 24-Jul-08 18:53:24

I work in a field - I'm a journalist - where I can work flexibly, and earn a living; but some of the full-time inhouse options are definitely off the cards for me.

I also disagree that 'experienced part-time women are pretty much running the charity sector'. ippr and Anti-Slavery are both run by jobsharing women, but I cannot think of a single other major third sector organisation which is.

Miggsie Thu 24-Jul-08 19:13:18

I have part time hours but not a part time work load...ho hum

Career progression, no, I don't want it, I'd have to work more hours...or take more pressure, and go to lots of meetings. I don't want to do that so yes, my career has stopped, but at least I can work in flexible hours.

Evelynsmum Thu 24-Jul-08 21:07:42

Hmm...not so much scarificed as compromised...not in line for promotion now and certainly a bit sidelined BUT my company have surprised me in that:
a) They agreed to my request to work part time.
b) I have some interesting cases / responsibility.
c) I've been supported in requests for training.
Overall not unhappy with my life and wouldn't miss the opportunity to spend time with my lovely DD. Will be very interesting to see how this goes over the next few years...

mumtoone Thu 24-Jul-08 21:09:49

I am contracted to work 4 days a week but in reality I work full time hours over 4 days for part time pay! My career hasn't been damaged too much so far but I'm about to hit a cross roads where I think I'm going to have to choose between working part time and progressing in my career. With two young children part time work is my current priority.

ByTheSea Thu 24-Jul-08 21:11:43

I used to work in the City but had a long commute and missed the DC. These days, I work in a local nursery. For an hour's work, I make about a 10th of what I used to, but I have the flexibility of only working part time during school hours. Our standard of living sure has changed.

madmarriedNika Thu 31-Jul-08 15:56:19

Couldn't do my old job flexibly- although did try part-time for a while (but it was like trying to do full-time work in fewer hours- plus still needed to go away for 3+ days at a time which just wasn't working for the rest of our family). So I quit, set up as a self-employed consultant doing minimal hours why my DCs are pre-school age, and also trying to finish my part-time PhD which I've been doing forever.

I miss my old job but don't miss the horrendous juggling act that went with it, and felt I was missing out on the DCs too much also. Plus my DH's new job demanded long hours so logistically it was impossible for both to hold down demanding full-time jobs which often involved overtime and look after the DCs (couldn't afford & didn't want paid help in the house- DS was at nursery but that didn't help of course out of normal working hrs).

I hope when the DCs are a lot older to try to break back into my old field properly...hence why still doing a PhD...

Now I love spending lots of time with the DCs... (but hate the lack of sleep from trying to work most evenings...)

madmarriedNika Thu 31-Jul-08 15:58:37

Meant to add as I hardly earn anything these days and DH doesn't earn buckets we consequently live in a pretty small house (at least compared to friends who have 2 DCs). But we aren't fretting about finances and have no debts. It's a compromise for the moment we're happy with.

Soapbox Thu 31-Jul-08 16:06:07

I have managed to keep my career moving in the right direction, albeit promos happened at a slightly slower pace than they might have done had I not had children.

I have worked various combinations of partime/fulltime/not at all over the last 10years when my eldest DC was born.

It has been a struggle at time, but that is not unusual for people who want to make it through to senior roles in the environment I work in.

I have found that it has been most successful when the balance feels right to both employer and employee. Flexible working works best when it is flexible on both parties part. That means that as well as me having the flexibility to take an afternoon out of the office for sports day, I also am flexible when there is an important meeting on a day when I wouldn't work Also that I do my fair share of the evening functions and travel too.

So in summary, it hasn't been easy but neither has it been impossible. It has felt easier when I have had a good balance between home and work, with flexibility on all parties part.

theyoungvisiter Thu 31-Jul-08 16:11:01

Yes, to a certain extent. I was on course for a promotion to the next job up and in fact was offered it while I was pregnant with my first baby, but I refused it because I knew they wouldn't let me go part-time in that post.

I later came back, went part time in my current post and have been doing this pro-rata very successfully since with several bonuses, but there's no chance for me to move up the ladder while I still want to work part time - they just won't consider employing a part-timer in a more senior position.

Feel a bit frustrated about it, but I know that I can reverse the situation at any point by going back to full-time, so it's just a question of when/if I want to do this.

PrimulaVeris Thu 31-Jul-08 16:11:39

I went p/t 7 years ago and ended up being moved from an interesting managerial role to a more administrative one.

I don't regret going p/t, I've had to accept that my prospects are now very limited and try to focus on all the advantages of this way of working. However, there are times when I feel totally passed over and pissed off and I've been out of my 'old' role for too long now to go back to it.

However, I notice that far more women are more successful at retaining their role when going part time - if I took the decision today (not 7 years ago) to go p/t I think things would be different.

Countingthegreyhairs Thu 31-Jul-08 16:19:32

me too - used to have interesting and reasonably lucrative freelance career - worked all hours

now have term time only school-hour only admin job

in theory could re-start my freelance job once dd is older but in reality will have lost touch/lost contacts/lost skill

shouldn't complain because I know I'm lucky but get occasional deep pang of envy when dh blithely leaves house for yet another conference or trip abroad ....

LivingLaVidaLurker2 Thu 31-Jul-08 16:26:07

I used to work full-time, then had dd and returned to a similar role two days a week. Then a management position became vacant (that had previously been full-time) and I was actually promoted and did the role as a combination of part-time and home work.

I feel very lucky though as most of my friends who return from maternity leave seem to suffer from demotion or are sidelined, even if their flexible working request is supposedly 'approved'. I think my experience was positively affected by the fact I worked in HR and in the public sector.

CeciC Tue 19-Aug-08 21:08:53

I have always worked f/t after DD2 were born, but afer DD2 I have been working f/t but starting early so I could pick up DD1 from school. It has been working very well, but now, I could be promoted to a managerial post, but I have to work full timehmm. I thought that I was working f/t. hmm. My boss now has to decide if she is happy with 3 days "normal hours" and 2 days early. Somehow, I don't think she will be happy, and I will stay in the same job that I have done for the last 10 years.

fullmoonfiend Tue 19-Aug-08 21:12:19

yes, deadlines and nurseries really didn't mix, I found....''lads, the printer's gone down, we're here til 9pm at least!''

And freelancing was too precarious in the north.

I had 5 years' out, bY which time I was unemployable (virtually) in my old field. I am now in a low-pay role working for a charity, which is, at least, highly flexible (and rewarding.)

mummy31 Wed 20-Aug-08 21:50:25

Why oh why must i work full time in a low paid job, had to leave a retail management job i loved as required weekend working - after having D this just not possible. I now feel stuck in a rut, as not qualified to get another mon-fri 9-5 or a school friendly hours job with a decent wage, as D starts school next year!!
any suggestions on which jobs i could go for would be really appreciated - know i need to think outside the box but am feeling really down about the whole situation - any happy stories to motivate would be most grateful.
if i was to ask for a part time position where i work - would seriously be shunned {had a disciplinary for being off odd days here and there with my daughter - cant go nursery with poos etc - about 8 days over 9 months.....Family friendly business - NOT!!!

chelsygirl Wed 20-Aug-08 21:52:43

when I asked in my retail job for term time only or at least flexible working I was laughed at shock and this from 2 women with kids themselves

know where your coming from OP

BrownSuga Wed 20-Aug-08 22:04:11

I'm not bothered about a career, and only wanted an interesting job that paid well. Fortunately I must have made a good impression with my last employer as they agreed to a 3 day work week as an expat. Which is quite frankly unheard of. I start back in 2 weeks, and already there are rumblings of, is it 5 days, or STILL 3 days, so I will have to see how it goes. A payrise every year is all I'm interested in, and they're pretty much automatic with this place.

The employer I left during maternity leave, did make noises about part time work also, and had a marketing manager who worked 4 days per week. It could depend on your industry and how desperate they are for people. Engineering and construction are very desperate so it has, so far, worked out well. They also employed DH. Thankfully he's in a different office so we will have different gossip to share over dinner grin

Mammaismia Wed 20-Aug-08 22:08:04

yes was studying for my degree pre dc's.
Now have degree but only doing 3 days in a mentor role.
Not sure if i can feasibly return to that post dc 3 mat leave!

whatironing Thu 09-Oct-08 13:51:37

I would have been a partner in a big firm now if I had agreed to go back 4 days a week. I work 2.5 days a week and have been told I can't progress unless I work 4 days. Nobody is that bothered about what I do now they just want to keep me on with the hope that I will one day go back full time.

Piccalilli2 Thu 09-Oct-08 14:05:12

I switched to a different role to go part-time (4 days a week) - I'll never be a partner and my salary's about two-thirds of what it was but I was stressed and unhappy in my old role anyway and I have retained a career with options for the future so actually I think I'm one of the lucky ones.

runningllama Mon 13-Oct-08 11:36:47

I had a 3 year break from work following the arrival of ds. I now work part time but had difficulty getting back into work as I was 'over qualified' for the low paid and low skilled jobs that were available with part time hours. I've now had a 2nd child and can only work when dh is home to look after children, i.e evenings and weekends, as my low pay would only just cover the costs of childcare and not leave me with anything. As a result we have very little family time together. I also have no prospect of any promotion or career progression as this is not offered to 'part timers' by my employer. This seems such a waste of my skills and experience, not only for me but also for my employer.

My career has stalled since I went part time and I work for adult (social) services so the lack of real equal opportunity is even more shocking for the rhetoric in the council's equal opportunity policies about "welcoming job shares and flexible working". Whilst yes, I do have flexible hours (I work part time at 3 days a week and can start half hour later in the morning than usual so I can at least do the school run in the morning which helps me as, it reduces the volume of childcare I need to arrange). However whilst my dept do support flexible / part time workers, they just dont like to promote us.

I have been offered promotion twice in the last 4 years after being successful in interview with the offer explicit on the condition that I go full time, despite my being clear during the process that I was applying as a jobshare part time worker as detailed in the (promotion) job advert.

It seems strange that I have been doing the very same (management) job in a "temporary capacity" for 3 and a half years in total periods over the last 6 years as the Acting deputy manager, in between gaps of them finding the eventual full time candidates appointed & their coming and goings. During these periods the team and dept coped very well with me being part time in this role as I pretty much covered most of the full time work in my part time hours. My new team manager and team all say I am ideal for the post (that a the eventual full time worker who doesnt require flexible hours is appointed to each time) and want me to do it - several of the women in my team have got cross on my behalf, whilst I remain philosophical each time (never hopeful that the world will suddenly become equal). I recognize that none of the managers want to stick their head out and risk losing precious full time post funding, whilst looking for another part time worker to job share with me if they appoint me (if one doesnt present straight away), so in practice they wont employ me permanently in a management position whilst I work part time. A previous manager told me he felt I was just too highly skilled to be matched with another job share as "there arent many part timers with your (my) level of experience" (I disgree as he never seemed to even properly look! Can he not see how many mums work?? And he never once advertised the post explicitly as part time to encourage other part timers to step forward), so they would rather just have a full timer, even if less experienced and capable, as they "can always ask you (me!) for advice if they get stuck".

I always thought if I was fantastic at my job I would naturally get recognition for this, and I cant help but work incredibly hard from the moment I arrive, until the second I leave the office. I have an exemplary record and am highly respected at work. I rarely have time off. In case anyone wonders, I will not pursue a discrimintation claim although I accept I could, as even without promotion I love my job and I work for a monopoly employer (a county council). But it tells a sad story that mums still have to choose between their career and children even if you do set everything up so that you are juggling both well, it is a huge struggle to get over other peoples' perceptions.

PerkinWarbeck Sun 16-Nov-08 20:55:13

whereismumhiding - I have had a similar experience. I am a mental health social worker (asw), and ideally need to undertake a practice teaching course in order to progress to management. My employers will not offer this to a part-time employee, so my career has stalled professionally and financially for the next five years.

I have recently moved 200 miles, and so have had to search for a new job. Whilst many social workers I know have dropped down from full-time to part-time hours (as I did in my last role), I have found it incredibly hard to part-time work from the outset in a new position. It seems as though one has to prove oneself before being considered for part-time/jobshare.

The social work workforce is 80% female.

Social work management is 80% male hmm.

BoffinMum Mon 17-Nov-08 10:20:28

A junior educational research colleague of mine has just come back from maternity leave on a part-time basis, 3 days a week, and asked me if I think it is possible for her to get to the top of the career ladder while working part time. She's talented and bright, lovely to work with, and it would probably be to society's benefit if she sought advancement, as she has a lot to offer this country and its children. I would even go so far as to say that we need more people like her at the top.

Sadly I had to advise her that because we work in a very competitive field, her ability to progress would be seriously compromised by her part-time status, because she wouldn't be able to rack up the number of publications she needed to earn advancement, or get the necessary experience on key committees and at key conferences.

It's a very unfortunate state of affairs, and depressed us both so much we had to have another hot chocolate and bit of cake to cheer ourselves up about the loss of female talent in UK society.

I agree with some of the other posters that this neanderthal society we find ourselves in also prevents fathers from going part time and sharing their children's care. If my DH even raised this in conversation, his P45 would follow sometime in the next few months, this is sure.

fluffles Mon 17-Nov-08 10:32:43

Unfortunately if you prove you can do a role more than adequately on reduced hours then people don't like it as you show up those who have or still are doing the same role on full-time hours.

It's no secret that people who work less hours do so more efficiently... it makes sense in fact as you are fresher, have short deadlines and don't get bogged down in presenteeism to fill the day.

I personally feel that work should be more about WHAT you acheive and less about BEING THERE - and not just for parents. I am only TTC and not a parent but some weeeks i could easily acheive more in condensed hours and spend the remaining time more productivley in my home with my OH etc. even though i don't have children yet.

snowleopard Mon 17-Nov-08 10:32:46

Most of my contemporary mum friends have experienced this as they try to go back to work. It is extremely stupid on the part of employers IMO. They reduce the pool of talent available to them to the people who can work full-time, and give them the best jobs, so by definition that means they won't always be having those jobs done by the people who are best-suited to them. Doh.

I can work part-time, flexibly and in a job I like with good pay because, like some others on here, I'm a freelance writer and work at home. I'd advise anyone who intends to have children, especially women (as so many employers seem to discriminate against women for getting pregnant), to make sure they get skills they can use for freelance home working - journalism, copywriting, proofreading, coding, etc. And ideally build up a career in that before having kids. At the moment it's one of the few ways to have a working life as a mum and have time with your DC as well, without being considered second-rate.

angry on behalf of all of you with these dim and short-sighted employers.

Poohbah Mon 17-Nov-08 11:06:23

I'm an Occupational Therapist working in social services and I haven't been able to get a part time job as I moved following the birth of my baby. I know I was discriminated against, not once but twice. It makes me really sad!

HeadFairy Mon 17-Nov-08 11:12:55

yes big time. I was told that to get a job I really wanted, and was qualified for, I'd have to take a position in Birmingham for 6 months "to get some experience" and as I would have effectively been on call 7 days a week couldn't go home and see dh or ds at weekends. Obviously I couldn't do it, so lost out on my chance of promotion. I work 84% of my full hours and it's like I've asked to juggle puppies in the middle of the office. They refused flatly to allow me to work the hours I wanted to despite not being able to get childcare for days I couldn't work. They didn't really care. My salary has taken a big hit, as we get flexibility bonuses (we get paid extra if we allow them to change our shifts with minimum notice - they've threatened to remove that if I can't swap shifts just once - that's a 20% pay cut!) I'm increasingly tempted by the idea of leaving an industry I've dedicated 15 years of my life to and a job I'm pretty good at, because it's run by people who will not bend in anyway to allow family life to co-exist with working life.

wibbleweed Mon 17-Nov-08 11:45:44

Oh yes, it was bye bye career prospects for me... I used to work full time in the environmental charity sector, but wanted to go back 3 days a week, and also mainly based at home (because they had relocated 100 miles away whilst I was pg - definitely did not help matters!). I basically did my 'old' job just squeezed into 3 days. It was a real stress, I was really struggling and simply did not have enough time to do anything. Add to that a new boss who didn't seem remotely interested and it was a nightmare. Eventually I stuck it out till I had DS2and I'm now trying to make ends meet doing some freelance consultancy work together with OU tutoring. To be honest I'm quite happy at present - I get to spend time with the little ones, I'm bringing a little bit of money in, and I'm sort of keeping things ticking over careerwise should I wish to go back to full time working in the future...

terribletwos Mon 17-Nov-08 12:12:02

Yes been given an opportunity by my old company working for someone different who has children herself luckily but I don't feel I do my job as well as my old one and don't feel I give my kids 100% either...sad

wishingchair Mon 17-Nov-08 12:18:36

I've been very lucky in that I've been able to work 3 days a week and teh company has been really flexible and understanding. I now work from home which is great as I can pop out to get DD1 from school and it's not a catastrophe during school hols and if she's ill etc.

BUT I would definitely say that I have zero opportunities for promotion. The unspoken message is that it would require full time work and a lot of travel; neither of which I'm prepared to do. So I'm coasting for a while, but to be honest, the pros massively outweight the cons for me.

HeadFairy - that flexibility bonus sounds inherently discriminatory to me. The citizens advice bureau would be able to advise.

GrimmaTheNome Mon 17-Nov-08 12:25:11

I've been lucky. Been in the same job over 20 years, they let me work from home when DHs job moved, and then half time when DD went to school. Of course its half the pay but the flexibility is wonderful. I'm also more productive, I think (apart from when I get an MN fit) because I can think about how to implement something or fix a tricky bug at the same time as making the beds or pruning the roses. And I don't have to waste much time in meetings!

But I am very highly qualified in a specialist field, with a lot of experience and accumulated knowledge, and I've never wanted promotion (aka managerial stress) - I'm very happy being a backroom nerd.

cakeaddict Mon 17-Nov-08 13:30:06

I was able to go back to my old job part time. However, due to management restructuring soon after I returned from ML, I have found myself doing a slightly different role. I feel I have been sidelined by the new managers, and effectively demoted (no longer line manage other members of the team for example). I don't think this would have happened if I had been full time, and I also think that I suffered by taking a full year's maternity leave and being 'out of sight, out of mind', leaving a big space for others to fill my shoes.

I took the decision to prioritise my child and spend time with him, so I'm happy with the decision I've made, and I'm lucky that my company would allow me to come back part time. But I do sometimes feel really frustrated by the fact that my career really seems to be going backwards, when my original intention was to merely standstill for a few years...

blackrock Mon 17-Nov-08 13:36:58

I have flexible working and for the first year it was extremely hard...new staff didn't seem to be able to take my guidance on board and old staff kept telling me my priorities were different now I had children. True at home, but not during work or work done at home!

A new member of staff was recruited...my boss kept highlighting the role as adding to mine, but indicating a bit of sidelining.

The second year has been very different. I have proved successfully that I can balance work/family and work in a very similar way to previously. The main thing was making other staff realise that I operated in the same way and have kept up to date.

Recently I pulled together for my boss,through foresight and I think I now have his confidence once more, but it has taken time and work, probably more than I did when I was FT, and more efficiently done.

PT has made me very focussed and efficient

blackrock Mon 17-Nov-08 13:40:17

Forgot to mention. Several colleagues who I was on the same level as when I left for maternity leave are now two levels above me. I have after a year moved up one level, but am not pushing for more promotion, as planning to have another child at some point.

I have made the decision to remain where I am until my children are at school, as I don't want an increased work load at this stage, my work life balance is good, and I am effective.

Quattrocento Mon 17-Nov-08 13:42:28

One thing about work that frustrates me is the lack of understanding shown by the childless.

For my firm, flexible working has to be in place for us to allow part-time contracts. So for someone working a 4-day week, this means mobile and blackberry have to be on for the day off. If necessary the worker has to be prepared to come in to work on the day off and take another day off in lieu. You can imagine how difficult that makes childcare arrangements.

When it comes to promotions, part-time means slower train.

rebelmum1 Mon 17-Nov-08 13:49:38

yup it's career suicide ..

rebelmum1 Mon 17-Nov-08 13:52:23

Not much you can do though is there? it stands to reason you will be overlooked, especially if there are colleagues who are full time they are making double the contribution you are, it's a simple equation of input/output ..

rebelmum1 Mon 17-Nov-08 13:53:38

You see what I want is less responsibility, more flexibility and more money grin

worley Mon 17-Nov-08 13:58:25

i work in the nhs, i was full time before left to have ds2. befoe i went on mat leave i was told i could train for a specific extra part of my job (to do i/v work - i am already qualified to do it but hospital wants in house training to) when i came back after mat leave was told i wasnt going to be allowed to do it now as i was pt and they prefer ft people to do it. i do 32 hours a week, so 1 shift less than the rest. makes me angry/ the person who they go to do it instead, has now give it up as he didnt like it!!

Blinglovin Mon 17-Nov-08 14:03:13

To be fair, I think men who took a more flexible approach, would also find their career prospects falter. Unfortunately though, it tends to be the women who make this decision and stick with it. I have a great career, earn 4x as much as DP and we've previously agreed that he'll stay home for a while. He's happy to do this in theory, but is starting to panic about not earning his own money etc. And it frustrates me because I do have a career, and he doesn't, so he's not giving up nearly as much as I would if I stopped working (even without the financial aspect).

I just wish I could work from home a bit - unfortunately, almost impossible doing what I do.

jojosmaman Mon 17-Nov-08 14:09:32

Yes, for the most I think this is the case, I personally don't think we can "have it all". For me I can work from home two days a week but sometimes I need to be in work for meetings or to access files which I can't do and so for this reason i have agreed to come back four days a week (instead of three) as I felt I was being overlooked and missed out but not being here more.

But having said that, I don't regret putting my job on hold for one minute, I didn't want to be on my deathbed thinking that I wished I'd spent more time with my children (and I can't imagine i would think "i wish i'd worked more" on my deathbed!). Only have one ds at the mo but if any more came along I'd do the same again, 6 months off, 18months P/t then full time when they are two.

Unless we win the lottery when I would hand in my notice, I don't like work that much!

edam Mon 17-Nov-08 14:10:45

Have had to go freelance as doing a senior job, full-time with a toddler just wasn't working out. Now earn half what I used to with no pension or holiday pay or other benefits.

I've been headhunted for a Proper Job like my old one but they made it very clear I would have to do full-time which would mean seeing ds for an hour in the morning while we are rushing to get ready, and half an hour in the evening. So I can't really do it.

fruitstick Mon 17-Nov-08 14:15:11

It's an issue that I struggle with constantly but I have come to the conclusion that you can't indeed have it all. Not because of any attitude or discrimination but because there is only one of you!

I had to take a step down the ladder in order to work 3 days a week which frustrated the hell out of me. But I have a fulfilling job which I enjoy but cannot work past 5.25 or get in before 8:30.

My boss gets paid a fortune, works all the hours god sends and has no personal life. He's welcome to it if you.

What companies should do is be flexible enough to allow you to work in something you are qualified to do and in hours that are acceptable (and I don't think they are allowed to withhold training because you are part time).

I think the issue comes down to the fact that, for many of us, we have a hard time admitting to ourselves that this is a choice we have made for the benefit of our children and we would much rather blame someone else for not being CEO on 23 hours a week.

Or maybe that's just me wink

brimfull Mon 17-Nov-08 14:16:51

I would be earning twice as much now if I didn't have kids.

rebelmum1 Mon 17-Nov-08 14:22:34

You see we all want to do less work for more money! I have had to forego foreign travel too, as it just doesn't fit in with a 3 day week and I have had to take tons of time off with a sick dd. If I work anymore she will suffer as a direct result. Thing is keeping a toe in the means you have the option to increase time in the future. But I'd prefer to be at home, at the moment I feel I have two jobs and do neither of them very well.

rebelmum1 Mon 17-Nov-08 14:24:36

I free lanced too for a bit but I was working much harder for less and was relieved to get back to my old job.

PetitFilou1 Mon 17-Nov-08 14:50:48

My employer has stuck with me through three mat leaves - so I am just grateful for that really. I get paid pretty well and they have allowed me to drop my hours and since moving too far from London to commute I now work from home. However, I have missed out on opportunities that could have pushed me up the career ladder and I'm all too aware of that. But my dh is away an awful lot (often three nights a week and some weekends) so someone has to be keeping the home fires burning. Atm it has to be me and that's the choice I've made by a)marrying him knowing his life was like that and b)having three children in five years. But I do feel resentful about it at times make no mistake. And I would find it hard to get work with another employer for the same money so for the time being I'm sticking with my old employer.

BoffinMum Mon 17-Nov-08 15:58:59

I have been treated very well in my current job but I just wanted to share a conversation I had with my first ever boss in 1991 (himself a father of three).

Me: "I have just got my first payslip and it seems I am being paid half of what the others are doing this job, for much longer hours than we originally agreed. I think there's been a mistake".

Him: "No, it's because they're men or single women, and you're a mother, so you are only able to concentrate 50% on your job because you are thinking about your children so much".

It was one of the rare times in my life that I have been rendered absolutely speechless.

MrsGuyOfGisbourne Mon 17-Nov-08 16:21:39

Hve not read whole thread, but there are some enlightened companies. I had worked for my current company for 10 years when I had DS1. Was working in a male-dominated field - was the first woman to return from maternity leave (Others had said they would and didn't)My boss (X) was delighted to see me back and insisted that I work from home, come into the office for meetings, and on days in the office left @ 3 to pick up DS1 from nursery. One night I was in a late meeting negotiating with a bank in the city and rang boss for some advice, which he gave and then at the end said - 'who's looking after [baby]' which some may construe as sexist as he would not have said that to a male employee, but I took it as further support from him. When DS2 was about to start school, I requested term time only. I have 'proved' this by taking unpaid parental leaave, as allowed by law, and there had been no detriment to my work, so needed to take one step further before DS2 was 6 and I lost the right to request hmm. Immediate boss (Y)was anti - I appealed and orignial boss X, who was by then MD overruled and here I am 4 years later, have term time only, am home based, well-paid - and so have complete loyalty to my company, so win-win - can happen.

Libra1975 Mon 17-Nov-08 17:44:58

I don't have a career as I am an IT bod and unless you want to go into management there isn't really a career structure as an IT bod you are just either junior or senior in your speciality. However to take a few years off would definitely make it very hard for me to go back as things move so fast, hopefully my company are going to let me go part-time.

rainbowbadger Mon 17-Nov-08 19:17:36

I am a manager within a social service community care team, work between 18 and 21 hours per week and have been promoted three times since having children / working part time. Within teams I have worked in, my managers have always been positive towards my situation and seen that I can cram alot in to my hours etc. The most negativity has been from an older men who found it hard to cope with a female manager esp one who is a working mum too but he came around in the end. I think the public sector is a bit easier to work flexibly in and local authorities have a lot of p/t positions in middle management mainly cos they get the same output for a cheaper wage. That said in senior / exec positions it is mainly male dominated.

mustrest Mon 17-Nov-08 22:22:38

I also work for social services and work 3 days a week. I put in considerably more hours then my paid for 21 hours, but I have recently realised that it doesn't matter how hard you work and how good you are - I am still viewed (negatively) as a part timer. This is partly because, I have just had to fight to get on a course I want to do which was seen as hugely problematic as I am a part timer. I am having to pay my own child care so that I can attend the course on my non working days.

tiredandgrumpy Mon 17-Nov-08 22:36:46

I worked pt in my old pre-dc job for a while, but it was clearly going nowhere & I was simply grateful to have found pt work on a reasonable salary. Then they made me redundant & I realised that I would struggle to walk into a pt job somewhere new. I took a slight change of career track, a large salary cut because I was starting at a much more junior level and walked into a job with a large professional firm. I have received more training in the last year than I received in 6 years industry. I have a very clear career path and am loving my job. I'm also one of 3 part timers, but many more who are parents and there is a great understanding of family commitments.

Yes, I've taken a sacrifice in my salary level, but career-wise I'm sorted. I consider myself extremely lucky.

Twinklemegan Mon 17-Nov-08 22:39:27

I haven't sacrificed my career as such, but have definitely sacrificed my pay. To stay in the public sector (where family-friendly hours and flexible working are to be had) I recently had to take a substantial pay cut. As I am the main earner this is stretching us to the limit at present.

bealos Mon 17-Nov-08 23:12:33

I def agree with one of the original posters... don't tell them you want flexible hours or part time hours til you get to interview stage. If your skills are right for the job they should consider def consider how you could work in the role then. I tried this and it worked!

twinsetandpearls Mon 17-Nov-08 23:17:53

I haven't but dp has. Taking 5 years out has put my career back though but it is just a case of catching up.

katsh Tue 18-Nov-08 15:00:41

I am looking for a job having been out of my previous ( legal) one for 8 1/2 yrs whilst having 3 dcs. I've worked throughout that time at other jobs, and am now finding that I can't get back to my original career unless I go full time. Can any of you in jobs that do support p/t albeit with a slower career path tell me what sectors you are in?
Tiredandgrumpy I'm particularly interested to know what you retrained in , if you don't mind me asking.
I'm just trying to think of things that I might be able to do . I don't mind the slower progression part at all - I feel that's a choice I've made but I'd just like to be doing something that I wanted to do for a few days each week.

Wordsmith Tue 18-Nov-08 21:54:42

I probably earn the same (pro-rata) as I did 10 years ago, when I left an employed position to set up as freelance. 2 yrs later I started a family and 6 yrs after that left self-employment because we needed more stability of income.

I reckon if I'd kept on the career path I was on 10 yrs ago without going self employed and without having kids, I'd be earning double what I am now, pro rata (I work 3 days/week).

It's a choice I made I suppose but it does irk me that it's generally the woman that works part time and it's not equally expected of men after becoming fathers. The recent proposal to increase paid maternity leave to 1 year will only make matters worse, reinforcing the view that women are the employee liability but all men will do when they become dads is take a couple of weeks off.

Honestly, as an employer, who would you choose? You can't really blame them. It's the system that's wrong - until men are able to take (and do take) flexible working in similar numbers to women, mums will always be sidelined.

MizZan Tue 18-Nov-08 22:06:37

boy, this thread makes discouraging reading. It does make you wonder why this issue was not raised more forcefully when we were all training for these fabulous careers from which we've now been sidelined.

I work p/t but effectively have a f/t workload. many many late evenings. there are several part-time mommy-trackers where I work, all have been relegated to pretty marginal roles and the same is in the process of happening to me, thanks to a manager who sees me as a liability because I'm not available to travel at short notice and can't produce in 3 days what takes others 5 to do.

oh yes, and I earn about 40% less, pro rata, than I did 10 years ago, and yet still have it flung in my face constantly that I am more expensive to employ than a 20-something who will happily work 40 hours a week for less than my 3-day a week salary. Am basically made to feel the company is doing me a favour by employing me. The company agreed to hire me on a part-time basis thanks to my very enlightened former boss, whom I followed from our old company to this one. Sadly, he's now moved on, and my new one clearly doesn't see things the same way.

That said, I wouldn't go back to full-time while dcs are small - did it for two years after ds1 was born and we were both perfectly miserable. But I don't think the current set up is good for me, my company, or my family. Have often wished I'd opted to become a writer, teacher or doctor - seems all of these are more flexible and have child-friendly options, while the corporate world really lacks them. Unfortunately at my advanced age and given our need for me to earn a decent income, I'd have to retrain on the side while still employed (and obviously way too late for me to become a doctor!) - not going to happen while the dcs are still small.

Albertsmum Tue 18-Nov-08 22:57:40

I work in a large accountancy firm and have worked flexibly since I returned after the birth of my first child in May 2004. I have not ditched my career aspirations but I recognise that it is going to take me longer to accrue the experience that my full time colleagues are getting by working full time while I work 25 hours but I am seeing it as a slightly more long and winding road with a few detours into 12 months of mat leave and extra days off for the important things like half terms and school assemblies.

I think working in a large organisation and also in an area where you are often out of the office makes it much easier to work flexibly.

I have no idea how I would even start at trying to get the support from a new employer who has never road tested me as a full timer though...

Cloudhopper Wed 19-Nov-08 09:49:13

I have had mixed experiences. When I asked to come back from maternity leave 3 days per week I was rapidly sidelined and pretty much told I was being put on the part-time mummy track. A lower salary and status ensued, along with two other colleagues of mine who went part time.

We were the most experienced members of the team and did all the difficult and risky work while routine stuff was covered by the full timers at greater cost. If we hadn't been part-time we would have all moved on to better things!

Then I went 4 days and really noticed a change. Working more than not working has had a fairly big impact on home life and in a lot of ways my life is harder.

But career wise it has been brilliant. I had developed specialised skills in my part-time project role which I then used to move jobs into a better paid mainstream full time role. I moved jobs and now work full time with 4 days in the office.

I wouldn't think my career will go much further but never say never. If I want to progress to a Director level post, I would have to be committed fully to normal office hours, so maybe when the kids are both at school. I don't have a large team at the moment and they mostly work flexibly too, so there is a lot of mutual respect that perhaps wouldn't be there if they were all 9 to 5ers.

Sometimes I worry about how well this is working out for my boss. I think she has been very good to me, and it would be easier for her if I was always at my desk.

I have always made it clear that I am completely flexible. I never leave colleagues in the lurch where deadlines occur when I am not there. I take work home all the time. I will come in on weekends. I am always contactable from home and email in on a dial up.

Just wanted to put my story because I think there is hope. You do need to be better in every way than a full timer. You may be paid slightly less at times. But it is possible.

Olipop Wed 19-Nov-08 09:57:15

I have been unable to go back to my former role as it is impossible to do part time and virtually impossible to do as a job share. My company were very flexible in allowing me to reduce to 2 days a week but I have been moved from pillar to post with different short term roles and projects. I know that they have to find things for me to do and it was kind of complimentary that they didn't want to automatically put me in the back office standard part time role and wanted to keep me front office and use my 10 years of experience but it has meant I have had lots of days feeling that they were just finding me projects to fill my time. Even to the extent that they were giving me tasks and telling me that it would take a month when I knew that I could produce the work in a week or two. I think it became a bit of a problem for them to keep thinking up things for me to do.
I hate not having a designated role and have decided that when I return from this maternity leave (DC2) I will ask to go into the back office. This means that I will have a structure and will always feel useful but also means that my experience may well be lost. It will also mean a serious reduction in bonus.

For me my manager has been great to a point.
He arranged for me to come back to a 'made-up' new role so that I could work in my home town rather than a commute, I got to keep the same grade pay (pro-rata) and stay on the management team with regard to bonus payments, meetings, training and development.

The down side is when I have had to have time off when the kids are ill or CM ill I have been asked - Are we asking too much of you? Is the job too much? - Part of me thinks how nice they care and part of me thinks is it because they see me as liability.
I work full time when needed to cover my Managers holiday, I have changed days if needed, worked evening telecalls etc but as I am the only one who has a family I don't think others realise what this involves for me to do this.

Overall though I just think working while the kids are small is hard - as it is non stop.

tiredandgrumpy Wed 19-Nov-08 16:42:17

Katsh, I'm an accountant with a background in audit and then out in industry. My 'retraining' involved moving back into practice with a large accountancy firm, but in their tax department. My existing skills are complementary, but I had very little relevant technical knowledge. I love learning new stuff, even at my great age!

Cloudhopper Wed 19-Nov-08 19:06:55

I am an accountant too. I think it is probably quite a good job for part-timers.

poppy34 Wed 19-Nov-08 19:15:16

me 2 - not back yet but not unduly worried about it -also a tax person in big firm and its quite a normal thing for woman at all levels to work flexibly in this environment

Goldberry Wed 19-Nov-08 19:23:31

I'm a teacher at a girls' school. They are really good about maternity leave and flexible working and also give generous maternity pay. I can't help feeling this is partly because the workforce is almost all female. However, being part-time since I had the kids, I am certainly lower-paid and have slowed down my path to promotion. Also, even though my school is, as an institution, very reasonable, there is a bit of a feeling that one is left out or slightly marginalised as a part-timer. It doesn't help that some part-timers try to get out of doing things that are inconvenientn for them but are technically required as part of their contract. I think this makes some people regard part-timers with suspicion.

mygreatauntgriselda Wed 19-Nov-08 21:45:57

Agree with Soapbox

I went back to work FT after baby No 1 and 2 but was really unhappy/exhausted/stressed/resentful

After Baby 3 insisted on flexi-time and got it with support of Head of HR. DH also has amazing flexi hours which he negotiated which means we only have to pay for 1 day's child care a week

I work 2 short days from home, plus 3 days from ofice (two of those days until 7PM)

My long days I get home late, kids are in bed and I have a sandwich and crash

2 days a week I do school run

Fridays I am home by 4pm

I love it

Has it affected my career? NO - I am so much more motivated now that I am achieving loads of great stuff at work and have had two pay hikes in last year as a result of my performance - trouble is that I feel I could never find another employer who would also give me such flexibility plus pay me well

I am waiting patiently for the day that all employers are as good as mine and all women can choose their hours and thus perform at their best and still have a life with their family....[patient emotion]

stephla Wed 19-Nov-08 22:18:22

I would say part-time work is more of a career coma than suicide. My employers are great. I work 3 days a week, often from home. But I will never be able to find another job 3 days a week with the levels of pay,interest and responsibility. In my book, that makes it a job not a career but for the time being, it will have to do. At least I have a job.

Botbot Wed 19-Nov-08 22:28:38

I went back full-time, but with slightly reduced hours, and took a corresponding pay cut. I do think my career is suffering, because I've got exactly the same workload as I had before, but I'm not able to stay late (as is traditional in my industry) in order to catch up, so I've occasionally missed a deadline. But it can't be helped, and TBH getting to spend more time with dd is more important to me than any sort of career progression (though it would be nice).

I do feel that I'm stuck where I am though - I don't think another company in my industry would let me work the hours I do. So in that sense my career is stalled.

mygreatauntgriselda Wed 19-Nov-08 22:36:35

grin at career coma

actually thinking about it, I am prevented from going for a higher level job as I couldn't get the same flexibility so yes, it has affected my carrer detrimentally

Goodasgoldilox Wed 14-Mar-12 08:37:19

I went part-time and accepted that my job would be 'only' too! Actually, I certainly work more than full-time.

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