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AIBU to feel flexible working means you just end up working for free

37 replies

satbythefire · 02/12/2019 20:16

Hopefully they’ll be many of you familiar with this and can help me please. I get paid for working 4 days a week and I spread this over 5 days, so I work shorter days to do school pick up. Yet to get my job done I end up working most evenings and increasingly weekends. I’m working the equivalent of least 5 days a week on 4 days pay. I’m in a senior role and feel that I have no choice.

AIBU to think it shouldn’t be this way. Is there anyway to make 4 days a week work? If so, how do you do you manage it?

OP posts:
peachypetite · 02/12/2019 20:19

You need to push back otherwise you’ll just make it worse for yourself.

CareOfPunts · 02/12/2019 20:21

YANBU, but I need the day off in the week for my mental health never mind anything else

Mascarponeandwine · 02/12/2019 20:22

I work 4.5 days and find it blurs the boundaries. If you work four days with one whole day off, it’s much easier and more defined for colleagues. Leaving early to do the school run Is harder for people to “see” your non working hours.

bluebeck · 02/12/2019 20:30

You need better boundaries.

You have the power to resolve this - make it your aim in 2020!! Just work your contracted hours. No looking at emails or work phone. I have a senior manager at my place who leaves her phone in her desk drawer at weekends and on holiday.

HermioneWeasley · 02/12/2019 20:33

Most people in senior roles work over their contracted hours. If you think you’re doing the same total hours as a full timer, you should speak to your boss.

Eastie77 · 02/12/2019 20:38

I had the opportunity to reduce my week to four days when I returned from mat leave. I decided not to as I knew I'd end up checking emails and working on my day off (no choice as would have urgent work coming through that no-one else in my team would be able to pick up and understandably so since they are just as busy as me) so would effectively be doing 5 days work for substantially less pay. This is what happened to every single one of my colleagues who went down to 4 days and several are quite bitter about it.

mumofamenagerie · 03/12/2019 11:38

You either need to improve your boundaries at work (which can be difficult) and cut the unpaid work, or speak to your boss to say your role's workload can't actually be accomplished in 4 days and therefore you're working 5 days for 4 days' pay, so to please go back up to 5 days' pay while remaining flexible (so continuing to work in the evening/weekend). If they say no, then just work to rule.

(I work 3 days a week, and never work one day but often spread the three days over 4.)

Twittlebee · 03/12/2019 11:44

Yup, this was me! So I have just gone up to 5 days a week as I explained to my employer how although I am only being paid 4 days a week I am working 5. I still pick up DS etc but I just ensure I get the workloads done once he is in bed (like I was doing anyway!) or catch up a bit over the weekend.

Lolacat1234 · 03/12/2019 12:02

YANBU. I worry about this when I go back to work, they are letting me do 3.5 days but my job is really a full time role so I know I'm going to have to get better at pushing back on silly requests and things I usually take on for an easy life. I'm practicing saying "actually that's not my job so I can't help you with that." I'm a PA so I often get dumped on. I think it gets worse the more senior you are sadly.x

WhoKnewBeefStew · 03/12/2019 12:03

I think this happens in any job, flexible, part or full time. You have to learn to push back and speak to your manager about work load if needed.

Merryoldgoat · 03/12/2019 12:07

I work 29 hours over 4 days and I don’t work over that except for Audit time.

I speak to my manager about realistic expectations and don’t log in from home unless absolutely required.

I’m sort of middle management I suppose and quite senior, but where I work doesn’t expect more from me than I’m paid for.

CalamityJune · 03/12/2019 12:11

It sounds like what you're actually doing is working full time with one day equivalent working from home. I had a colleague who was like this but she valued her day off so much that she wouldn't raise it.

Drabarni · 03/12/2019 12:23

Doesn't it just depend on how long it takes to do your workload, or are you doing more than your workload.
In a senior position I'd imagine you need to do extra at home, is this not the case?

Preggosaurus9 · 03/12/2019 12:44

Simple, stop working evenings and especially weekends! Assuming your workplace culture doesn't expect that?

Velveteenfruitbowl · 03/12/2019 12:46

I think it really depends on your role, a lot of roles require unpaid overtime as a norm.

PlutoAjder · 03/12/2019 12:53

I've never seen this work in practice, everyone I know In my (male dominated) industry that tries to go part time is the same story. The roles and attitudes are set up that an employee equals 5 full, long, stressful days and often more. Women get pushed out at the middle ranks because it's unsustainable.

And then we set up HR workshops to brainstorm why we have a lack of female senior talent.

SarahTancredi · 03/12/2019 12:59

It also seems to mean be at the end of a phone 24/7

Bail them out all the time

Go where they need

And have overtime put on the rota without being asked

It's amazing how even when you do 16 hours or less work can still take up most your time Hmm

satbythefire · 03/12/2019 16:43

Thanks all for your posts. I've been reading intently and it's interesting to hear your experiences and advice. It's definitely given me some ideas. Thank you.

OP posts:
Isleepinahedgefund · 04/12/2019 07:12

I think the more senior you get the more likely this is to happen. I started my current role part time and quickly realised it was taking me full time hours, so I changed to full time so at least I'm getting paid for the time I'm spending on the job. I'm moving on so I'm currently recruiting my replacement - we've specifically excluded the possibility of it being a part time role because I know it can't be done in that time (and I work very fast!) - My employer is very flexible working friendly and I didn't want someone to end up massively stressed out trying to do a five day workload in three days when I know it simply isn't possible.

When you get to senior positions you're also more likely to have the kind of job that CAN'T wait or be covered, so you end up doing what it takes to get it done.

The only successful, genuinely part time role I've had were where my workload was adjusted pro rata AND this didn't impact on my team ie they didn't have to pick up my work when I wasn't there. It was essentially a widget making job though - so I just made less widgets in the time I was employed to do widget making.

PurBal · 04/12/2019 07:25

I have flexible working but work full time.

You need to push back. I work in a sector where there is always more to do, it's never ending.

It sounds like your sector may be similar or perhaps they're asking too much of you (someone who works 4 days).

Keep track of your hours. Prioritise and if you can't finish something, don't. If you've been working overtime for a while you need to flag with your manager.

My boss is is really strict about working the hours you're paid for and no more. It helps her to assess productivity and ascertain if we need additional support.

Phineyj · 04/12/2019 07:45

I operate my own informal time in lieu system. I teach part time (0.6) and I do quite a lot of extra stuff for the school on top of that which benefits their public image. So if I've done say two unpaid half days I ask for (and get) a day off. But a) they have a fair pay policy and b) the management is reasonable and c) I only ask for days off that won't put anyone out much.

Where these systems break down is when only one side is expected to show the flexibility.

Basically if you are less than full time, especially with niche skills, you have to really look out for yourself and keep re-evaluating the situation and whether it works for you.

At the moment time is more important to me than money.

SerenDippitty · 04/12/2019 07:48

I agree, unless it really is a part time job you will just end up with the same amount of work to be done in less time so you end up working longer than your hours anyway.

Oblomov19 · 04/12/2019 08:00

This thread makes for really sad reading.
It's such a shame that this is being allowed to happen.

Saying that I've never done it. But that's because I do accounts, so it's easier. When I leave the office I don't give it a moments thought until I go back in.

NurseButtercup · 04/12/2019 08:04

I get paid for working 4 days a week and I spread this over 5 days, so I work shorter days to do school pick up

I agree you need to change your boundaries. I suggest you start with how you frame your working week:

"I work 30 hours per week Monday to Friday, 9am until 3pm. Outside of these hours I have childcare responsibilities, therefore I am unable to check and respond to emails and voicemails."

ColaFreezePop · 04/12/2019 08:31

You do flexible part-time working I do flexible full-time.

Instead of sending emails at 8pm I draft them then send them when I'm working the next working day. Partly because a few of my colleagues will reply when they shouldn't.

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