back to work (NHS) advice needed please(7 Posts)
Hi, first-time poster here so please go gently with me!
Am after a bit of advice from other mums who may have been in a similar situation to me.
I'm a nurse in the NHS, we do 12.5 hour shifts, 7-7.30 day and night, no short days. Nobody on my unit (as far as I'm aware) has set days.
I'm pregnant (19 weeks) and really worried about managing work and childcare. My financee works away Monday to Friday (will be Tuesday-Friday when the baby comes with Mondays working from home), so from a childcare perspective I will be completely alone from 6am on a Tuesday morning till 9pm on a Friday night.
I can't pay for childcare Mon-Fri and then only use 2 or 3 days of it per week, which is what would have to happen if I stayed on random shifts. Especially as the 12 hour shifts mean I will need to pay for babysitting either side of nursery. I also won't be able to do nights during the week, only at the weekend when my fiancee can care for baby overnight.
The ideal solution would be, I drop my hours to somewhere between 18 and 25 per week, and they agree to let me work set days (potentially including some weekends). This could include working weekend nights every 2-3 weeks. From my perspective this seems reasonable and is about as flexible as I could possibly be, but I worry they may not see it that way.
Has anybody been in a similar situation? How did you tackle it? My ward managers know I'm pregnant, but I'm not sure whether to mention my concerns now, a long way in advance, or wait till I'm on maternity leave, or just before I go off? I don't want to be seen as difficult and up till now have always been prepared to change shifts at short notice to help when we are short staffed. I also don't want to end up in a position where I have to pay back my maternity pay if I can't return.
I should say, I do actually like my job as an NHS nurse and do want to go back to it!
Any advice gratefully received!
Found you in 'unanswered messages' so hope this will be helpful, but it is a few years since I worked in NHS hospital, at least it will 'bump' you back to 'Active' for a while.
NHS is massive organisation with a current shortage of nurses so to lose someone experienced and willing to work would be ridiculous.
I think you need to ask before you go on Mat Leave to reassure you.
Can you discuss this with your Ward Manager? if not, then HR?
I think you have a right to ask for flexible working hours on your return, and I find it difficult to believe that most organisations cannot find something that would fit in with your needs.
It may be that you have to move to different department, but that can only add to your CV.
Otherwise you can opt to go on the bank and choose your hours.
Or find a speciality where you can work more fixed hours and arrange childcare, e.g. night duty, community, GP practice nursing.
Have you any colleagues with small children to ask?
Congratulations on your pregnancy.
I was in a similar situation I asked to reduce my hours to 2 12 hr shifts and set days. I asked on a flexible working basis and my trust has a good family friendly policy (I'm not sure if that is universal or just my trust). I got refused the first time I asked but appealed and it went to HR who agreed. The nhs is also pro breastfeeding so it helped that I still bf my DS2.
Have you considered doing bank work instead which could be more flexible? Or you could perhaps consider a flexible childminder who might take your baby on different days depending on your shift pattern. I think some can accomodate this as long as you agree to a minimum number of hours per week. It is worth asking your employers if you can do nights just at weekends, are there any other staff that do this? My workplace is very good at letting people have a set day off per week and some lone parents just do fri & sat nights when their ex's can have their kids. we also have many staff who are grandma's and have a set day off each week to take care of grandkids !!I think it is all very informal though, no-one has a set agreement from HR, our team leaders just try to accomodate them as much as possible. I have 4 kids and have managed to keep working since they were babies, it has only been possible because I have a good employer and a flexible childminder when they were small. Now my kids are all at school they let me do just nights and weekends in the school hols so that I don't have to worry about childcare. I've always found that if I am reliable and help them out by doing extra shifts at short notice etc , they help me out with what I need. It works both ways.
My friend reduced her hours to 23 hrs a week (two days a week) and it is usually nights or weekends. Her husband does the childcare - so no childcare cost.
Other NCT friend has her child on a nursery 1 day a week and she does one long day on a weekday and a night on weekend.
Others have reduced their hours to 16 hrs (not enough) money though.
Another option is do to agency nursing.
Don't stress about it. Lots of nurses have done it. Discuss it when you start planning to go back to work and see how your baby will be.
Get a copy of your Trust's flexible working policy.
You can apply for flexible working but they can refuse. I work in the NHS (not a nurse) and, recently, my trust has made it harder for mums. A lot of my colleagues who are returning from maternity leave are being refused a reduction in hours etc. So, sadly, they are leaving. Crazy really when you consider the amount of investment put into their training.
It will be hard with your partner being away BUT I know a lot of nurses who do the 12 hour shifts at night to cope with childcare. You could ask for daytime hours. What about 7.5 hours instead of 12? You need to work within the hours of childcare availability if you are on your own Tues-Fri. It will be hard working weekends all the time as you will end up with no quality time as a complete family (this has happened to me).
Would you be interested in making the move to community nursing/health visiting? They have better hours.
You will need a flexible childminder. Luckily, we have one and she does different days for us and only charges when we need her (but only between the hours of 7.30am and 6pm). My eldest starts secondary this September so we are starting to save a bit more on childcare.
My DH works shifts including weekends and I have had a nightmare organising childcare over the years especially once our shifts went to between 8-8 and then on-call on top (plus centralised 26 miles away). We have no grandparent help (only 2 left and they are too elderly now).
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