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?

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.

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