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AIBU to go part time when I'm the breadwinner?

(35 Posts)
failingatlife Thu 26-May-16 11:50:47

I approached my line manager yesterday about the possibility of reducing my hours from 37.5 to 30 a week (5 days/7 to 4/7). She was very positive & thinks it wont be a problem. I work in the NHS so there are policies in place for this. I have printed off the appropriate form which she will have 4 weeks from submission to respond to. I have been considering this for a while & it feels like a weight off my shoulders ( assuming I get it!) but now I'm panicking a wee bit! My family situation is this:
My DH has a chronic illness which is degenerative & has left him unable to work. His condition has deteriorated a lot this year meaning I have to do all the household chores & admin, support my DH and sort out the DCs as well as working full time in a physically & mentally demanding job. I am exhausted & stressed out. Something has to give! I know I am not doing my job to my full potential and when at home I am ratty & impatient with all of them.
While I think dropping 1 day will give us all a better quality of life (I work shifts & barely see the family some weekends) I really need to be sure I'm doing the right thing for us all, as I am the sole wage earner. DH is on PIP & ESA, we also rent out our previous house which we own outright (we had to move to a council bungalow because of dh's mobility problems). We get a very small amount of tax credits and manage OK on our income but with 3 growing DC costs are increasing all the time! I don't want my kids to miss out because of our situation. I also need to think of the long term for DH & I , pension etc.
Part of me is feeling a bit selfish, that I should just suck it up & stay full-time to ensure we are financially secure. OTOH I am stressed & exhuasted, my family need me to be strong for them (esp DH who is mentally very fragile at the moment). AIBU to consider pt? WWYD? Any experiences/advice would be great. I don't want to jump in without considering all the implications. Thanks for reading if you've made it to the end!

araiba Thu 26-May-16 11:57:55

can you afford a 20% paycut?

that would be my bottom line really.

it can be easy to dismiss how stressful not having money can be

princessmi12 Thu 26-May-16 12:03:44

Unfortunately you cant have both ways,but I suspect if you drop hours then you will be entitled to more tax credits.Actually I think its a requirement to notify them of change of curcumstances. Call them and update them,it might work in your favour!
It is not unreasonable to want work shorter hours as you not just main breadwinner,but main caretaker too!

shopaholic85 Thu 26-May-16 12:05:01

If you can afford to, YANBU. Do you have the option to go back up to f/t if things don't work out? I suppose if there was some kind of financial emergency, you could release equity from the house you own?

BiddyPop Thu 26-May-16 12:08:00

Once you drop the hours, is it easy/hard/very hard/impossible to go back up should the need arise in the future?

Would you be under pressure to come in on day 5 (to work, attend meetings, answer emails at home, do training etc), or are the systems robust enough for that? (Some roles in NHS I presume are very much "come in and cover your shift, handover, go home", while others are "this is your pile of work, get it all done").

Have you looked at the household budget, and would it be manageable if you drop the day?

Then, on the far more positive side:
How much will you gain by doing it?
How much time will you free up for getting on top of the house and DH, doing bulk cooking for working days, getting a chance to shop properly?
How much time will you free up to devote to DH and improving his moods, lifestyle, outlook?
How much time will it give you to take the foot off the pedal slightly, and take even a few minutes for yourself every day?

From my own perspective, I took parental leave to do a 4 day week for 5 months a couple of years ago. DD was struggling (ASD/ADHD), I was way over-stressed at work, DH was travelling all the time meaning a lot was falling to me. I am not the main breadwinner, but I have always been under pressure as having the permenant and pensionable job (DH pays into a private pension, which sucks earnings-wise, and his job is always slightly vulnerable due to the way the economy is). So stepping off entirely was not an option.

I know that it made a huge difference to me coming back to being myself - I am still massively stressed but it gave me a chance to catch up on life and give DD more time too which helped her settle back onto a much more even keel. I am now back 5 days a week, but it was well worth it for that break.

If you would be able to step back into 5 days should you need to, and can manage financially on the lower income - I would say yes. It may help you to be the strong person you need to be.

Whatthefoxgoingon Thu 26-May-16 12:10:26

I wouldn't in your situation. Seems quite precarious as your husband is unable to work. Sorry I know it's so stressful bring the only earner in the family.

BonerSibary Thu 26-May-16 12:11:04

Yanbu to consider it, especially as you say something has to give. It's going to have to be affordable though, and that's a word that has many shades of meaning.

Gazelda Thu 26-May-16 12:11:30

It sounds exhausting and unsustainable.

Definitely investigate tax credits - that might help cushion the drop in income. And ask your manager about whether you might apply to up your hours again if you need to.

Any chance of you getting regular hours? Are the DC helping out as much as they can?

Are you in a position to 'buy' support eg cleaning, ironing, extra support for your DH.

I guess you're faced with an impossible choice, but for me it would be quality of family life as a first priority.

RaspberryBeret34 Thu 26-May-16 12:14:25

I think it sounds like a great idea and your tax credits will probably increase a little to cover some of the drop. i'd work out all the figures in a geeky spreadsheet as reassurance.

I can't imagine how stressful life must be for you just now with everything you have on and it is really important to recognise that and if you can drop a day a week and still get by financially then it sounds like you'll all be happier.

If you are unsure, you could as an alternative look at sticking with 5 days but employing a cleaner or mothers help type person. Or 4.5 days plus cleaner. I do 4 days a week plus a day a week working from home and find it a good balance.

Gibble1 Thu 26-May-16 12:23:38

I did this a few years ago and cut my hours from 37.5 to 30. I actually did it without discussing with DH. I got home from work and told him I'd asked to do it. It was a spur of the moment snap decision.
DH was a bit meh and said "what about the money?" but I said that we would have to manage without it. I was heading for a breakdown had I continued to do full time.
We managed, to be honest, I think we wasted far less money because I was able to be on top of things much more at home and did the money saving stuff such as batch cooking.
I'm now working 34.5hrs a week as we do 12.5 hour shifts but have an interview tomorrow which will put me back to full time. The children are older now though and the hours are far better. So I will be able to manage the house and whatnot better with a 4 day week than I do currently with a 3 day week.

Good luck.

notinagreatplace Thu 26-May-16 12:23:53

Coming at this from a slightly different angle - can you change role within the NHS to ease pressures? E.g. a more 9-5 role rather than the shifts?

failingatlife Thu 26-May-16 12:23:59

shopaholic The policy states " An acceptance of an employee’s request for flexible working will
result in a permanent change to that employee’s terms and
conditions of employment (unless otherwise agreed). The employee
has no right to revert back to the previous working pattern. "
This is why I need to make sure I'm making the right decision! Having said that, overtime is always available so if money was tight I could pick up a few extra shifts as and when it suited us.

araiba It wouldn't be quite 20% as tax/ni/ pension/student loan would also reduce. We are fairly comfortable, manage to save a bit, can afford a holiday, occasional days out etc. e.g This year we are having a week abroad in summer & had a short caravan break in UK during easter hols. Probably wouldnt manage this on reduced salary but would be able to pay bills, afford food etc.
I am more worried about the long term as DH will never work again ( barring a miracle!) so I will be financially responsible for both of us and would like to have decent savings for retirement etc.

princess I hadn't considered we may get more tax credits! Will look into that, thanks!

H0LDTHED00R Thu 26-May-16 12:24:01

You won't lose 20%, because of the way we are taxed (thresholds) and you need to think about the quality of life overall. Money is a means to happiness not happiness itself. So don't be scared to sacrifice some money for time with lived ones. Plus if things get tight temporarily you can always do some extra basic hours or join your staff bank .

EveryoneElsie Thu 26-May-16 12:24:06

YANBU. You should be able to try it then go back if it doesnt work out.

See if you can help him claim PIP as well, and you may be entitled to Carers Allowance. if that still exists. flowers

fanjolamps Thu 26-May-16 12:25:40

Something doesn't seem right to me. You own a house outright, receive rental income. You live in social housing (how did you even get that as a homeowner) you work, your DP gets PIP and ESA, you get tax credits and you're worried about finances? Hmm

GoblinLittleOwl Thu 26-May-16 12:26:46

What a dreadful situation for you. If you continued to work full time could you use part of your income for support in the home with housework etc. so that you could return to a house with fewer chores to do?
It seems to me that you would be giving up paid work in exchange for more caring duties which will leave you physically exhausted, and with increased financial worries.
You have to consider what will be the best option that will help you; you are the mainstay of this family and must prioritize yourself.

ilovesooty Thu 26-May-16 12:31:38

I wish people would rtft.
A successful application for flexible working results in a permanent change to the working pattern. The husband already gets PIP.

failingatlife Thu 26-May-16 13:21:48

For those who suggested it regular hours mon-fri isn't a possibilty in my department. I think I would still struggle as I spend my 2 days off a week doing housework/ foodshopping etc.
biddypop my role is clinical very much 'do your shift go home'! There are always staff on rest days as we work weekends so meetings, work emails etc not an issue. Also I agree that having a day to batch cook etc would free up more time to support my DH & DC -who are fast approaching the dreaded teens- and maybe allow us to have more quality time.

failingatlife Thu 26-May-16 13:23:39

Thanks for all your posts. Need to go now, food shopping beckons! I will read all the posts later, thanks again!

NapQueen Thu 26-May-16 13:27:42

I dropped to four days shift work, though I have none of the burdens you have with your husband, and I've never felt better for it. I'm a better mum to the kids (18mo and 4.4), I get more done round the house, I have time to breathe.

I was the higher earner, and my wage with the cut is still slightly above dh's (though we are both low incone) and our tax credits have still been good, and the cut isn't 20% as it's less tax and ni overall and also one days less petrol / commuting costs / food and drinks on shift.

nbee84 Thu 26-May-16 13:35:51

The council bungalow you are in, are you able to stay in it for life? If yes, then the other house you own will be part of your pension. Once your mortgage is paid off any rent will be income (minus expenses for insurance, repairs etc) or you sell it and invest the money.

RortyCrankle Thu 26-May-16 15:16:43

As suggested, if you continued full time, would you then be able to afford help in the house - a cleaner or home help? As for shopping have you ever tried ordering online? It takes very little time to place an order.

anyname123 Thu 26-May-16 20:43:15

If you're a nurse you can always do the odd bank shift, especially a Sunday AM, and bring in more money if you are struggling, without being obliged to work 5/7. I'd go for it. Tax / NI / pension will all drop, you won't be that much worse off

failingatlife Thu 26-May-16 21:38:51

Something doesn't seem right to me. You own a house outright, receive rental income. You live in social housing (how did you even get that as a homeowner) you work, your DP gets PIP and ESA, you get tax credits and you're worried about finances? Hmm

Not sure what you are getting at? We qualified for council house only because of DHs disability and were on the list 4 yrs before getting this disabled bungalow. DH gets PIP & contributions based ESA, these are not means tested benefits. We get around £70 tax credit pm (though they just paid £208 into my account randomly confused.
I'm worried more about the precariousness of our situation rather than the day to day living costs. A fair proportion of our income is made up of disability benefits (Higher rate PIP for living & mobility) which the government are trying their best to limit. At the moment I squirrel away as much as I can each month as a safety net in case of future benefit cuts. Cutting my hours would mean not saving any more but probably not needing to dig into savings barring a disaster IYSWIM.

failingatlife Thu 26-May-16 21:48:29

The council bungalow you are in, are you able to stay in it for life? If yes, then the other house you own will be part of your pension. Once your mortgage is paid off any rent will be income (minus expenses for insurance, repairs etc) or you sell it and invest the money.

Our bungalow is 4 bed so will probably downsize when kids are older. We live in a sheltered housing complex so would probably be able to get a smaller bungalow as there are only 2 family size homes. The council were keen to move the previous tenants when their kids left home. Our own property is mortgage free ( critical illness insurance) and will be our pension one day. It's only a small 2 bed worth £100k max so not going to keep us in luxury!

Not a nurse but yes potential for bank shifts is there plus as I said our dept always has ot shifts available.

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