How do you find a good part-time or term-time job which uses your experience and skills – and pays accordingly – or negotiate a reduced hours position in your current job? It is an issue that many parents find challenging since such jobs are often not advertised widely and it is something which is particularly pertinent for those who have spent the last few weeks struggling to find summer childcare cover.
There is an increasing focus on career progression for part timers and a recognition of the links between low quality part-time roles and the gender pay gap. Moreover, a small, but a growing number of employers are advertising high quality flexible jobs which cover annualised and part-time hours. There are also organisations, such as Workingmums.co.uk, which specialise in advertising family friendly jobs with a large range of employers so it is worth registering with them.
However, it is estimated that up to 80% of jobs are not formally advertised so if you are looking for part-time or term-time work it is worth doing some research on firms which employ people with your skills, checking out their flexible working policy and asking around about them before sending in a speculative letter.
Use social networking to find out about any potential vacancies, even if it is only for short-term work. Once you get your foot in the door and show what you can achieve, you will be in a stronger negotiating position as a lot of flexible working relies on trust. Ask friends, family, colleagues and ex-colleagues for any information on job openings. It is also a good idea to target start-ups which may be looking for people on a less than full-time basis as they grow.
If you do spot a good job that is advertised as full time it may still be worth contacting the employer and asking whether they might consider reduced hours, a job share or annualised hours, even if only on a trial basis. Legally, you don’t have the right to request flexible working until after you have been in a job for six months, but if the organisation really wants you, you will have more leeway.
The big question is when to bring up reduced hours in interviews. If a job is definitely a full-time one – ie it is unrealistic to do it part time or term time – then it makes no sense to ask to do it on reduced hours. However, if it could feasibly be done on reduced hours then it is a good idea to inquire at an early stage and not to leave it until the offer stage since employers don’t tend to like surprises at the last minute.
You will need to make a good business case for working reduced hours – for instance, you could make the case for working term time only by showing the peaks and troughs in a business during term and holiday times and how money – not just salary but overheads – could be saved by employing someone who works mainly during peak times.
It is important to show you understand the role and what the impact of going part time might be on the rest of the team, if there is one, and how their work flow could be controlled – for instance, if workload is predictable, could client expectations be managed and could work be delegated, perhaps building up the skills of a more junior person? Think through all the implications, for instance, if there is an emergency that crops up at work on days you are not working would you have any leeway to deal with it? Could you delegate some of your work.
You are more likely to be successful in asking for reduced hours if you show you have considered the role carefully – and the organisation – and have thought through the business demands.
Another possibility is job shares, but employers tend to need quite a bit of convincing on this if they have not had prior experience of how they work. Again, you need to put a strong business case and talk through how it would work in practice, showing you have considered everything and how the organisation could benefit from having two heads instead of one. Referring to case studies of successful job share role models may also help.