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Is my boss gently persuading me to leave?

(12 Posts)
Stase Mon 15-Nov-10 21:55:32

I'm sure this is a really common scenario, sometimes my boss is so subtle, it's only when I get home and relate a conversation that things she has said seem not quite right!

The back story is I returned from my second year of maternity leave ten months ago, 15 months after the first year off ended, and a new line manager started shortly after I got back. I'd never really had a line manager before, and was just allowed to manage my small team without too much interference. My boss can't have children, and has said she finds it very painful, which I'm sure it is sad; I'm not sure how much this influences her attitude. I hope it doesn't but I might be being naive.

Anyway, I have two boys, 4 and 20 months, and I work 40 hours a week over 4 days sometimes more, depending. I don't think anyone could question the commitment I show to my job and the organisation, and I have a really low rate of absence due to sickness (mine or theirs) relying on DH and MIL, so I can be seen to be doing a good job.

This is getting long isn't it? Anyway, the hours are too much and the nursery fees so high that, along with a lot of other women in a certain career bracket, I end up with the same amount in my pocket as if I worked two days and paid for no childcare, taking into account the cost of the commute as well. So I'd like to reduce my hours to 20 a week, and keep my level of responsibility (and salary, obv) and share the role with a junior who is showing promise (and actually getting twitchy without a challenge). When I chatted this over with my boss informally, she said maybe I had to think about whether I wanted to have a career or a job, and maybe it was time to start selling Tupperware, or working in the curtain department of John Lewis. hmm

I'm not sure where I stand. Obviously there's the right to ask for flexible working, and I'm determined to reduce my hours to something more family-friendly, but I'd rather it wasn't at the expense of my job!

Does anyone else find themselves in this position, and where do we stand legally? And what do you do about a boss who acts like she is a friend, but really doesn't believe I should be able to 'have it all'?

DuelingFanjo Mon 15-Nov-10 22:06:25

her comments are out of order and not very professional. She should just be giving you an answer to your question about changing your hours.

Put in a formal request for flexible hours and see what happens. Legally no one has to agree to reducing your hours, maybe you should think about looking for different work with fewer hours if it's not possible to change the ones you have in the job you have.

Stase Mon 15-Nov-10 22:12:22

I agree, not very professional! I think my next move will be a formal request to reduce the hours, and to have someone else, from HR or another department I work with, involved in the discussion. She's one of those people who start sentences with 'I'm going to be really honest with you here...', which just makes me more suspicious!

The other complication is my eldest starts school in 10 short months, so the financial benefit of working will be a bit more motivating then, but I still need to be at home more! I manage a kitchen producing healthy food for sick folk, and my kids are living on beans and oven chips! Something's got to change!

hairytriangle Tue 16-Nov-10 06:43:18

I think her comments are out of order but I can see she might be frustrated by your request. Do it formally as you suggest with hr involvment.

violethill Tue 16-Nov-10 06:54:59

Agree with the others. Comments are unprofessional, but it may well not be best for the company to allow you to reduce your hours. Has she picked up that your reason for wanting to, is that your nursery costs take up a lot of your income, and that you want to reduce hours to cover it all with free childcare? Because remember, if you do put in a formal request to reduce, the onus is on you to prove how it wont affect the business negatively. Your childcare costs aren't a reason whatsoever. Thats one of those things we all just have to grin and bear. Frankly, with your eldest starting school before long, I'd stick it out anyway and reap the benefits of reduced childcare costs then. Halving your hours right now would make you very part time, especially only coming to work on two days.

I Also think you're reading too much into the fact she cant have kids - I don't think this is necessarily about her private life, but about the fact that your post is 4 days and she doesn't think its best for the company to half it

muddleduck Tue 16-Nov-10 09:28:04

So when I reduced my hours my boss made similar (if slighly more subtle) comments. I ignored and went ahead with the hours reduction.

But the thing is, to some extent whe was right and with highsight I think she was genuinely trying to help me realise that by reducing my hours I was saying goodbye to some of the 'career' aspects of my job. Not because she wanted it to be that way but because in the jobs I'm in it is just impossible to make good career progress on part time hours.

While I agree with the others that she was completely out of order, it may be worth thinking through exactly what you are giving up by going PT.

(BTW I don't regret my decision one bit, but I do think I was naive to think I'd be able to go back full time at some point and pick up as if I'd never been PT)

Stase Wed 17-Nov-10 15:31:05

Tricky one, eh? Something's got to give it seems, and it can't always be the kids. I think we've reached a bit of a compromise where I work two long days and one short day, so I can pick up my eldest DS as often as possible.

Thanks for all the responses. I agree, it's hard to have a two-day-a-week 'career'! The lady who did my job before me did have this arrangement, and she didn't have kids. So maybe if I stick at it, I'll get to that stage at some point. I just want to earn full time wages on hardly any hours! And what is wrong with that?!?! Eh? Eh? wink

RibenaBerry Wed 17-Nov-10 17:55:41

Sorry, not sure if I've got it. You want to halve your hours and keep your pay, or halve your hours and keep your seniority (and thus your pro-rata pay)?

sincitylover Wed 17-Nov-10 20:05:46

I don't see why she should be so against a job share which is in effect what you are asking for if I have read it right.

Stase Thu 18-Nov-10 12:15:16

@RibenaBerry: No, just being flippant. I have an hourly rate, so no real hope of keeping all my current income, but saving £270 quid a week in nursery fees should soften the blow, although will probably lose most if not all of my tax credit, so not sure how it's going to pan out. It's actually not about the money (within reason - I think if they asked me to take a cut in my hourly rate, I 'd have to think long and hard) but about balancing enough work to keep the status and responsibility I currently have, not slow down my career progression too much, work enough to be happy, because I do love what I do, and see enough of my children so that I don't miss them too much, and they remember that I'm the mummy!
My husband works freelance as well, so income is variable, but I think having an arrangement where the kids are always looked after by one if their parents, or occasionally Granny, as opposed to private childcare, should mean that we eliminate that situation where one of the kids is sick and we argue about who has the most pressing schedule that day, and can't possibly get out of it!
Like I said in the OP, this is probably a pretty universal dilemma.

Stase Thu 18-Nov-10 12:16:08


RibenaBerry Thu 18-Nov-10 13:40:18

Yes, sadly it is. I am very lucky that between us DH and I earn enough for a nanny, and still clear some money each month to make it financially worthwhile. I am in a tiny minority though, and it really shoudln't be the case [shuts up before this turns into a feminist rant about the tax treatment of childcare].

BTW- if they accept your proposal they are not allowed to decrease your hourly rate just because you are part time. Only if they agree with you to rearrange your duties so the job itself if more junior (e.g. you give up the senior bits to go part time and what you are left with is a job that would normally have a lower hourly rate).

Good luck.

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