On of my clients at CareerBalance is now three months into a new role with a mediums sized professional services firm. She’s working locally and just a few minutes from her children’s primary school, but the job just isn’t working out. She knew before taking it on that she wanted to work a maximum of four days a week and have hours between 9.30 am and 3.30 pm to allow her to drop off and pick up her children. It is clear that the job she does could fit into these hours, and she is also willing to do some work from home. However, at the interview the managers of the firm made it clear that the hours were 9.30 am to 5.30 pm and this was not negotiable. Nor, they said, could the job be done part time. My client now knows otherwise, but is too afraid to ask for her working hours to change.
Some of our clients believe that asking to work part-time or for non-standard hours severely limits their chances of securing employed work. I disagree – there are many employers out there who do not want people in the office all the time, and with a little additional thought and planning almost all could offer more flexible hours.
Unfortunately, many workplaces are so task focussed that they forget the needs of their employees when it comes to childcare. It is indicative of the culture of this particular employer that one member of staff did not disclose to his colleagues that he had become a father for the first time until several weeks after his child was born.
I advise my clients to be very clear with potential employers at the interview stage about the hours and days they can work, and to come up with their own solutions to demonstrate that they can perform the role very effectively. The organisation Working Families offers valuable advice on flexible working arrangements, including job shares, and it is certainly worth speaking one of their advisers if you are thinking of working part time.
Don’t settle for less by shoehorning yourself into a new job which involves making painful compromises to your family life. My client had major misgivings about whether her new job would work for her. In the absence of any understanding from her employer she has been robbed of irreplaceable time with her young children.