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 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.

pippylongstockings Wed 19-Nov-08 16:14:04

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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