Following the birth of a child it is little wonder that priorities change and many people, particularly mothers, choose to reduce their hours or stop working altogether. The percentage of mothers getting back into the workplace is now estimated to be around 70 per cent – a figure buoyed by the maternity leave period and payments, and the reducing social stigma around working mothers and fathers’ taking a more active role in childcare. Roughly a third of working mothers (34 per cent) work full-time hours i.e. over 30-hours per week with the remaining choosing from a diverse array of part-time options to suit their caring responsibility needs. It is also becoming a strong issue for young fathers to want to play a more participative role in their children’s upbringing.
I’m going to go through a range of these options which are available to you so you can select one when making a case to your employer to let you work part-time.
There are a number of options available to those considering returning to work on a flexible basis. These are the options which you should consider:
1. Part-time hours: This constitutes any contracted hours which equate to less than 30-hours by working week.
2. Alternative days: The employee works alternating days i.e. every other Friday. Again these are not full-time (30-hours or above) hours.
3. Term-time working: The employee works either full- or part- time hours only during the school calendar year or term times.
4. Job share: A full-time role is shared between usually two-people over the course of a full working week.
5. Annualised hours: The employee and employee agree on a total number of hours which the employee must complete over the course of a period e.g. a year or a quarter. Through further negotiations, both parties agree on how this will achieved in the work week.
6. Compressed hours: Usually evoked for full-time employees, the individual might complete all 35-hours over four as opposed to the normal five-day working week i.e. this person might work 9-hours per day over the course of the four days.
7. Working from home/ tele-working: This is becoming an increasingly popular option and involves the person using mobile technologies e.g. internet, mobile phones, and cloud technology to complete their work out of the workplace, usually from home.
8. Staggered hours/ Flexi-time: This provides the employee with some choice over their own start and finish times, usually with some ‘core hours’ when everyone (irrespective of when they started and will finish) must be present in the office.
9. Zero-hour and casual contracts: Recently publicised as ‘exploitative’ by some sections of the media, it is easy to forget their ability to bring flexibility for both the employer and employee. They allow an employer to not specify any fixed or guaranteed weekly hours for the employee, similarly the employee is not under any obligation to take the hours. Though often used interchangeably, zero-hour are more often in favour of the employer – not obliging them to give work, but requiring employees be free to accept all work offered. When signing these contracts make sure you are comfortable with the possible uncertainty of work and pay.
When suggesting or requesting any of these forms of flexible working patterns it is crucial that you prepare thoroughly. Consider:
• The work you do – which one of the work patterns is most compatible with the client hours or busy work periods.
• The team you work with – any changes to your working hours is likely to have an impact on your colleagues.
• The financial implications – will there be an additional cost? Providing the tele-working equipment or specific insurance to protect tools, hiring costs for the job share?
These are the factors the decision-makers will be considering and if you can find a way of refuting or proving that your requests are viable, then there is less of a chance that they’ll reject your application.
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