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Am I being paranoid...? Advice on new PT arrangement

(10 Posts)
cakeaddict Wed 16-Jul-08 09:52:43


I have just returned to work after a year's ML and have gone back 3 days per week.

I might be being over-sensitive and paranoid due to stress of returning to work, but I get the feeling that my boss has never really bought into the idea of me working PT. Since going back, I have been asked to work on a project outside of the usual scope of my job because of staff shortages. I agreed but have expressed concern that this doesn't really work very well with my new working arrangement - my concerns have been brushed aside by my boss.

I don't object to being flexible, but I am slightly worried that in a roundabout way my boss could be giving me work that he knows will be difficult to accomplish in 3 days and then he can say I can't cope... though I could be being paranoid.

There are also rumbles of restructuring in the air and I'm wondering where I stand on keeping my current role/status in future structural changes. I kind of feel like I could end up being sidelined quite easily.

I guess I just want some advice on how to head off any potential problems, and is there anything I should be doing to cover my back just in case my fears are realised?

whatdayisit Wed 16-Jul-08 10:07:26

I always point people in these sort of situations to this working families web site the free telehone help desk was invaluable when my boss was trying to make me (bully me to?) change my hours.

I have now been doing 2 days per week for 7 years. To begin with there was a lot of resistance from both colleagues and management, it is inconvenient for them when I'm not there. They now acknowledge that they get a lot more than 2/5 of an "average" person's weeks' work from me and that someone with my skills and experience would not still be working at this level if I wanted to work full time, so there are benefits as well as the disadvantages, but I worked incredibly hard to achieve this.

During my part-time working I have actually been propmoted and management now use me to bounce ideas off, which makes me privy to things that would normally only be available to more senior people. No financial gain for me, but good experience for if/when I do want to go back full time and makes life more interesting.

Desipte all the progress women have made in the work place, I think if you want to work part-time, you do have to accept, to some extent, that it's not a perfect set-up. It will always be some sort of compromise, both for you and your employer. In my case, now it is a very happy one, but there have been difficult spells. You've already proved you can do the job (before DC's) now you have to prove you can make it work on a part-time basis

cakeaddict Wed 16-Jul-08 10:14:53

Good to know you've made it work. I think it will take some time to iron out the details.

It's been a bit tough as I've found the first couple of weeks difficult and unsettling and it doesn't help when I feel I'm getting 'digs' from boss/colleagues about not being there 5 days. It's also quite a change for me & those around me as previously I was very much a 110%, stay late, do whatever attitude which now just isn't practical (or desirable!)

whatdayisit Wed 16-Jul-08 10:15:02

Sorry - I didn't really answer the question did I? That's becasue I don't really know what you can do to protect yourself, but I'm sure that helpdesk will be able to help.

The fact is though that making PT working work for everyone if flipping hard work, but that doesn't mean you don't have rights because you do. Good luck.

flowerybeanbag Wed 16-Jul-08 10:58:10

cakeaddict presumably when you went back 3 days there were discussions about how your workload would be reduced/rearranged to enable your job to be done in shorter time? If you are working 3 days your boss shouldn't be giving you work that can't be done in 3 days, obviously. If he's agreed to a reduction in your hours your workload needs to reflect it.

if you agree to take on this new project do you actually have capacity to do it at the moment?

Don't be paranoid but just be sure to make it clear if you are ever struggling or don't have time to do work assigned to you, just as you would if you were working 5 days.

If this change was made as a proper flexible working request, it is a permanent change to your contract (unless you agreed a trial period), so he can't just change your hours back again.

In terms of where you stand with future restructurings, you have as many rights as anyone else, and difficult to say what would happen in a hypothetical situation, without knowing what the restructuring proposal would be.

Just continue as you are, be very good at your job, don't take on more work in an attempt to appease your boss, and make sure you are clear at all times about what capacity you do and don't have. Make sure the recent concerns you have expressed are in writing somewhere if they aren't already - in an email or something.

ProfessorGrammaticus Wed 16-Jul-08 11:04:31

Also (with apologies if these tips don't apply to your field - they do to mine):

- always return all calls/ emails before you go home if you are off the next day
- make very clear from your diary when you are in and when you are not
- if you have voicemail, personalise it so it always says when you will next be in
- be flexible. The reality is that it is up to you to make this work, even though that is not the law! If you can take the odd call, reply to the odd email or whatever on your days off, do it. It will make you look committed, which hopefully you are of course, and will stand you in good stead when your child is ill, it's sports day or whatever.

HappyNewMum2Be Wed 16-Jul-08 11:07:42

Hi cakeaddict, I agree with the advice that whatdayisit has given you - it is hard work. I went to 3 days from 5 after a back injury (nothing to do with babies) and 6months on I still got people requesting meetings on fridays, complaining I wasn't there etc, my workload increased and I ended up increasing my days to 4. It helped them in the short term, but probably made my recuperation stretch out a little longer. Anyway, thats all besides the point.

These little digs you are getting about being pt are not on. In your position I would be very proactive and performance manage yourself from the beginning rather than let your boss or (probably a little jealous) colleagues do it. By this I mean, keep a work log, journal or whatever, record deadlines, conversations, all results based stuff, anything your colleagues provide or DONT provide, and also any occurrences of the digs or other comments about your work.

This will work for you in several ways. 1) you will realise that actually you can do the project in the time you ave and that you are bloody good at it. You may find that it will boost your confidence to see in black and white what you have achieved in your new work pattern. 2) This will provide you with a good basis for maanging the project properly and also for highlighting to your boss your successes, at review time. 3) If the comments that make you feel paranoid do come up again, you will have the evidence to tell them all to PO and 4) Show them how committed you still are and organised, etc despite only being onsite pt and show them that sidelining you would certainly not be worth their while.

I recently got two ex colleagues who job shared doing this, they managed 30 or 40 little projects at a time. One of them carried on with it and the other didn't. Review time, only one of them got a payrise, the other was told to work more like the first.

Hope this helps. Keep positive.

cakeaddict Wed 16-Jul-08 11:56:04

Thanks all - some good advice here. I think it probably will work out but I do appreciate that it's up to me to make it effective. And yes, ProfessorG, those things do apply to me and I've started doing that already.

Thanks for the idea about the worklog HappyMum - I think that would be really useful when it comes to end of year appraisal time, if nothing else.

HappyNewMum2Be Wed 16-Jul-08 12:00:30

It is a habit I formed years ago when I was managed by an absolute b*h who wanted any excuse to get rid of me. I left anyway, but it felt good to be able to tell her to go forth whenever she picked on me grin

Keep smiling

ProfessorGrammaticus Wed 16-Jul-08 14:44:44

Also, never be apologetic or aggressive about being PT, just matter of fact. You're not short changing anyone, they don't pay you a FT salary, do they?!

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