Parents returning to the workforce after having children often want their employer to consider flexible working options that will better fit in with the balance of family life. In a recent article we looked at an employee's legal rights; so once you've established what you are entitled to, it's a good idea to also consider different styles and ways of working that you might wish to discuss with your employer. This article will show you that flexible working has evolved way beyond simply part time hours.
Different ways to for flexible working
Also referred to as flexi time, this way of working allows for an employee to complete their contracted hours of work, but within a time pattern to better suit them. An example of this could be an employee who is contracted to work 37.5 hours a week, Monday - Friday. Typically office hours might be 9-17.30, but flexible hours could allow an employee to start work at 7am and then finish early at 15.30 to get home for after school commitments. The loosest form of flexible hours is where a company allows you to work your set hours (e.g. 37.5) however you wish over the week. So on one day you could work 9.5 hours, allowing you to finish early on another day. Flexible hours exist in many different formats, and certainly allows scope for more family friendly working hours.
Part Time Hours
Part time hours are often the first thing returning parents consider when coming back to work. Part time working is literally reducing the amount of hours that you are contracted to do, and thus your salary is reduced respectively too. Your employer will consider an application to go part time but may decide (for business reasons) that they cannot support reduced hours.
Condensed hours are where an employee will work their set hours but over a shorter period. An example of this is where an employee typically works 37.5 hours a week, but wants to work a 9 day fortnight. On this basis, they don't reduce their hours, but instead work 8.3 hours a day (rather than 7.5 hours) to allow for having one day off a fortnight.
Where an employee wants to look at part time hours, but where the role is (and must remain) full time, a way of working to consider is job sharing. Job sharing, simply put, is where one role is shared between two or more persons who are each working part time. In my role as a HR Manager I have seen this work very successfully but have also seen examples of where the two persons filling a job share position have not produced consistent results, with many tasks falling through the cracks. It's a great solution for an employee seeking part time hours for a full time role, but it does require strong commitment and communication from all parties fulfilling the job share role.
Term time only
Term time hours contracts are few and far between, as sadly working life isn't restricted to when the kids are at school. However, when you find these roles they are a great balance for when you are seeking to have a career yet not have to put kids into daycare when the school holidays beckon. This type of role often exist in schools, universities and colleges where holidays tie in with those of your children. Other types of roles where this can work is where the work carried out is more piecemeal and not relied upon at a certain time - e.g. contributory work such as writing, supermarket work and some restaurants.
Working from home can also provide parents with an added flexibility to the way that they approach working life and can mean that school pick up and drop off's are a lot easier to perform. There are a number of companies who now employ at home workers, and it's becoming increasingly common for call centres to now allow at home agents.
Remember, that a good way to approach a flexible working conversation with your employer is to ask for the flexibility on a trial basis, to see if it is a success. Employers are often wary of trying something new, but a trial basis is a more risk free approach.
Are you a working parent? Do you have a flexible working style in place?