Some of us have a pretty strong idea that once we have our baby, we're going to pull back on full-time work. But having a difficult baby, difficulty in finding suitable childcare options, or simply a change of heart, will leave some new mums weighing up the pros and cons of switching full-time for part-time working arrangements. Not sure where to start on your decision-making? Here's our no-fuss list of points to consider.
1. Know your rights
If you're wanting to remain in the job and with the same employer you were with before you went on maternity leave, it's worth familiarising yourself with the Australian government's Fair Work policy for flexible working arrangements. If you've been employed in your role for at least 12 months, you're legally entitled to request flexible working arrangements. By definition, flexible arrangements include changes to start and finish times, patterns of work (such as split shifts or job-sharing), and locations of work, such as working from home.
2. Prepare a killer proposal
Telling your boss you want reduced hours because you simply can't bear to be away from your tiny-tot, doesn't a strong argument make. In short: She doesn't care. What she does care about, is how losing you for two or three days a week is going to effect her bottom line. Be prepared to show her how you plan to ensure the job gets done, while cutting back your hours. You may want to suggest a job-sharing arrangement with another member of staff, or ways in which your workload can be reduced, with the excess split among other team members. It is also worth pointing out that replacing you with a new employee presents a costly recruitment process, and so therefore, allowing you to work fewer hours for a reduced salary will save the company in the long run.
3. Be realistic
If you've learned one thing over your maternity leave, it's that babies are hard work. They demand your time, they laugh at your best-laid plans and they don't give a royal toss that you had somewhere to be an hour ago. With that in mind, don't promise your boss an unrealistic workload as part of your part-time work proposal. Chances are, you won't be able to fulfil the several in-depth marketing plans you assured your line manager you'd be able to pump out each week, and as such, you'll give your employer every reason to doubt your ability to work part-time successfully. Be open about what you can manage, be it working from home or in the office, and do your best to stick to it.
4. Be available
If you've managed to convince your boss to allow you to work part-time from home, ensure the lines of communication are consistently open. Nothing suggests you're not on the ball quite like emails going unanswered for hours on end. It's a good idea to have your work email account linked to your phone, so that if you're not sitting in front of your laptop, you'll hear the mail alert, even while you're trying to calm a tantruming baby.
5. It doesn't have to be forever
It may be that a year in — or even six months in — part-time work just doesn't fulfil you in the way your full-time career did. And that's ok. If you find that you're not feeling professionally satisfied, or your finances can't justify a part-time work arrangement, there's absolutely no reason you can't speak to your boss about returning to work in a full-time capacity. You will need to be willing to take on additional work, and may need to settle on a different role if someone else has picked up the tasks you initially let go of — but if full-time work is your bag, there's always a way.