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Going from full time to part time...

(20 Posts)
civilfawlty Sat 03-Nov-12 19:57:20

Hello. Lots of threads from me today: I seek wisdom.

I'm on mat leave with a bumptious 10mo. Also have an older dd Am really loving it. Am aware this is probably my last baby. Had planned to stay off work til the baby is 20mo.

However... If I take more than 1yr's mat leave, I loose my right to my job. On one hand, I'm feeling a) a little nervous about the potential impact on my (adored and hard won) career and b) like I'm ready to reengage that part of my brain. On the other, I adore my baby, and (in NO WAY making judgement about anyone else's choices) don't want to be away from the children full time.

So - I had thought I could go back 2.5 days per week, but compress the hours over two days. My question is - has anyone else done this? What was the impact at work? I'm concerned it may be difficult to be effective, and consequently I may compromise my reputation. Perhaps it would be better to wait til next autumn and go back 5days (compressed to four). Does anyone have any thoughts?

Thank you

Oodthunkit Sat 03-Nov-12 22:36:06

A lot depends on what job you do. And does your company have a history of agreeing p/t work.

Pastabee Sun 04-Nov-12 05:39:22

I really do think it is dependent on the nature of your job. My employers are happy to agree part time hours but they say the minimum is 3 days.

I know very few people who can make 2 days work because it simply doesn't offer enough contact for clients.

civilfawlty Sun 04-Nov-12 05:40:59

I know I can get two days authorised. I know I can do what is officially 2.5 days in 2. I just don't know how it will impact my status, I suppose.

housesalehelp Sun 04-Nov-12 14:55:22

2 days a week is not much time at work -and difficult to be effective -just in terms as it would be hard keeping in the swing of things for a start I think for most jobs 3 is just about workable provided work load is cut down sufficiently. it does depend on the job. I would have thought you would have to apply for a new job if you don't go back after maternity leave though and its very difficult in many fields to get a new part time job

civilfawlty Mon 05-Nov-12 12:32:28

Thankfully, I know both taking a career break and going part time are possible. I think I was seeking reflections on the impact on ones career/ status at work/ effectiveness. For those thoughts already offered - thank you.

kdiddy Mon 05-Nov-12 12:47:21

I don't know if I'll phrase this well, but in terms of career impact you'd have to consider that, say, 5 years' experience of working 2 days per week is not the same as 5 years' experience at full time. You'd have to work something like 12 1/2 years to have the same level of experience in terms of time worked. That might not matter in some jobs, but it will in others.

Working 2 days would quite probably limit your exposure to promotion opportunities, and I think psychologically because it is less than half of the working week you won't always be forefront in people's minds. Also, depending on your job, you might not get involved in some of the more complex work. Certainly in my job, the pace is so fast and things change so quickly that you need to be around for the majority of the week to be given responsibility for any large projects - they simply may not be able to wait 5 days to speak to you.

So it's very dependent on your job but I do think there are some things to consider in terms of your career prospects and realistically I think there are very few jobs where working 2 days a week wouldn't make any difference to that.

orangeberries Mon 05-Nov-12 19:37:01

Difficult to say if you don't expand what line of work you're in as clearly it makes a huge difference depending on which industry and which role.

I have worked part-time for 2 years now in a professional capacity (3 days a week) and I'd say it makes promotion opportunities virtually impossible although I still managed to gain varied experience and training.

Definitely as others said, it is hard because on your days off there are lots of things happening you cannot attend, including networking opportunities, important meetings, that vital email etc...

I have managed ok but it has been a struggle and I have had to work some of my days off just to keep afloat. But it does depend on your line of work and position - from what you said so far it sounds that your work are happy to accept 2 days which must mean they think it is workable, which is clearly a good start.

iknowwho Mon 05-Nov-12 19:41:19

Would you be prepared to be flexible.
If you had agreed to, say, Monday and Tuesday and an important presentation/meeting/whatever was going to be a Friday of that week would you be prepared to put yourself forward to attend?

civilfawlty Mon 05-Nov-12 21:40:19

Great points, thank you. I work in Whitehall, so not working/ being available/ checking email on Friday is rarely a disaster, as ministers aren't in. I think you're right: 3 days+ being available is going to be the minimum... Question is, do I go back now, or take a career break and risk my job in a year?

LunaticFringe Mon 05-Nov-12 21:49:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Snog Tue 06-Nov-12 20:20:06

Full time is much better than part time ime
Part time in my own experience means you are constantly flat out yet still not really meeting anyone's expectations, viewed as being uncommitted and not viewed as being serious about promotion. It may not be like this in all jobs.

However, I also think that it's better to work part time than not to work at all. Compressed hours over 4 days is what I do at the moment and it's pretty good.

I would say go back now if you like your job and would be sorry to lose it or would struggle to find another job. Better to go back part time than not at all. Part time working can be a bit dispiriting though - maybe you could go full time but negotiate extra annual leave and buy in more support at home - cleaner etc? Or can your dp change his hours too?

Good luck with this decision - it's a tough one.

Mandy21 Wed 07-Nov-12 20:25:13

I think it depends - I'm guessing (and I'm saying this as someone with a friend who worked 2 days per week at Whitehall although I think it was more of a personnal-y type role) her career hasn't been too affected - she hasn't been promoted quite as quickly as she ordinarily would have, but I think the civil service is slightly more receptive to flexible working than say a corporate environment (apologies - I know thats a sweeping statement).

I'm a lawyer - I do 3 days and have been completely sidelined. I am on my first important case since going down to 3 days 7 years ago. I'm not seen as being in the office very often, so if it were 2 days a week (even if you were doing 2.5 days' hours), I think you'd be completely overlooked.

I haven't been promoted since - I regularly work longer hours pro-rata than my colleagues, I respond to emails every day whilst I'm out of the office, juggle childcare for important meetings, but I'm still not deemed to be "committed" and partnership material. I simply wouldn't be effective having 3 days out of the office each week even if I was allowed.

ecuse Wed 07-Nov-12 20:36:10

Never seen a part time woman get promoted in my (male dominated) company ever sad

Wigeon Wed 07-Nov-12 20:50:33

Fellow civil servant here! (also working in Whitehall). I have been a full time civil servant, a part-time one, and a jobsharer. My thoughts:

What is your commute like? If you do compressed hours you may well not see your children at all on the days you work if you are having to do 10 hr days plus your commute.

Personally I think compressed hours sound like a nightmare. It must be exhausting.

Have you considered asking about a jobshare? I think this can be the best of lots of worlds. I did a G7 policy job as a jobshare and it worked really well, even when the job got really manic and high profile for a while.

I don't think part time has really impacted on my reputation. I have worked 3 days since going back after DD1 (in 2009) and some people don't actually realise you are part-time (not your immediate colleagues, obviously). It is a bit harder to attend all the additional corporate things, or get involved with projects not directly part of your job, because proportionally they are a greater part of your time than for full time people. But it is do-able.

How much are you bothered about returning to your specific job? I can't remember about my dept's HR policies, but would you still have a right to at least a job at your grade if you did go back when DD was 20 months?

You are considering everything from 2 days to 5 days - I think they are very different propositions. I think working 5 days compressed into 4 sounds really knackering. Do you really want / need the extra money that much? Start from thinking how much you actually want to be at home, and how much at work.

IME the civil service is actually a really good employer for considering flexible working. I had a very supportive boss when I was part of a jobshare too, and colleagues dealt with it really well too.

A slightly random list of thoughts, but hope they help. smile

Wigeon Wed 07-Nov-12 20:52:08

Oh, and on the promotion issue: in the directorate in my last job there was a jobsharing couple of women at SCS level (grade 5), who were well-respected.

BackforGood Wed 07-Nov-12 21:01:18

IME, 3 days is good.
You still get more days at home than you are at work, but you are actually in work more than half the (working) week.
(I've worked 3 days a week for the last 13 and 1/2 years, since going back after dc2.)
Someone at work has just gone down to 2 days a week, and it's just not working. The proportion of your working week you spend having to do the same things as a FT member of staff does, gets to high. For example - attending a 3 hour team/staff meeting takes the same length of time for everyone, but is a bigger proportion of your hours. Reading the compulsory (non case load specific e-mails) takes you both the same amount of time, but takes a higher proportion of your time. Same with training courses, conferences, etc.,etc.
If you work less than 1/2 a week, it can tip over into the situation where you have very little time to actually do anything with your caseload / project / clients / individual work.
In a 'career' or 'professional' role, it's probably not a good idea.

frazzled09 Wed 07-Nov-12 21:14:40

Some things to consider:

Compressed hours can cause resentment among colleagues. i.e you may be working longer hours on the days you are in, but you aren't physically present as many times (i.e. mornings or afternoons) so will be seen as being less available.

Will colleagues have to cover more, as you will be being paid for 2.5 days, but you won't be there on as many days - if they employ another 2.5 day person to top up to the equivalent of one full timer, who covers the half day when neither of you are there, as you would be compressed into 2 days?

Can you cope with being seen as a part-timer? I found it really hard. Did it for 2 years from when DS was 11 months, and I HATED it. Was told that part-timers can't get a bonus, aren't as committed etc. I know I was working far more effectively in the time I had than several full time colleagues, as I was completely focused on getting everything done in the limited time I had, rather than swanning off for coffee breaks - but that didn't count. I wasn't seen to be there 5 days a week, which damaged my status. My self-confidence was incredibly low as a result. And not having time for coffee breaks etc meant I missed networking opportunities.

Every week when you return to work, will you have a backlog of emails? I found every week was like coming back from holiday - hundreds of emails. I ended up logging on from home to keep on top of them, which meant I was working far more than I was being paid for.

In theory I am pro part-time working, it just did not work for me, in an organisation where part-timers are rare at managerial level and most requests for anything other than full time 9-5 are rejected. I don't really understand compressed hours, unless you never need to answer queries from outside your organisation, or from within the organisation sent by people who work 5 days. Unless you have a job-share arrangement and every half day of the working week is covered, someone else will always end up covering for you, and that breeds resentment.

It depends on your work context really! Sorry if I have come across as negative!

Declutterbug Wed 07-Nov-12 21:18:59

I had a friend who did 3 days a week in Whitehall in a brilliant job. She moved on and up on the back of it. Never had problems with colleagues and achieved outstanding appraisal. It can be done if you have the right job and colleagues and believe in yourself smile.

civilfawlty Thu 08-Nov-12 08:25:27

These are hugely helpful comments. In particular the points about colleagues needs/ perceptions, and also the issue of the proportion of the working day spent on emails or meetings etc.

My experience of working full time, but walking out the door on the dot of five to get back to the childminder, was that there were always raised eyebrows. But I knew the colleagues who were there til 8 or 9 messed about on facebook or whatever in the afternoon: I worked harder and smarter than them and always delivered. But... I wasn't there turning out the lights. Hmmm... It's so tricky!

3 days not 2 makes sense, of course.

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