Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Part-timers are the scurge of the workforce

I have been back at work for 6 weeks now (time flies doesn't it?). After my shaky start I have managed a perfect attendance record.

I am actually quite enjoying myself.

A number of my friends are Returning to Work at the moment. Many have to do it for financial reasons, some because they want to, but mostly, it seems the decision comes from workplace laws. They have to go back or else they won't have a job.

I work for the government, so it terms of 'family friendly' human resources management, I have a Best Practice employer. They offer 12 months maternity leave (with the option to extend for another 12 months), some of which is paid. They offer part-time hours on your return to work, until your child is at school. And they offer work-from-home options (provided it suits your job role and department).

I know I am lucky.

This flexibility has meant that after the twins were born I was able to have 18 months off. I now only work 2 days per week (and my full-time job is still open to me once Dew Drop and the Minx go to school). And I can work from home, sometimes, when it suits me. They also let me set my hours of work (I choose 8-1630 because that works for our family).

It is this flexibility that I hope will one day be available to all women in Australia (and other countries too). I know some of the larger corporates are living up to expectations in this arena, but lots of workplaces aren't. Like the situation one of my friend's finds herself in where she has been made redundant because her job role "can't be done part time". Why the bloody hell not, I ask?

It makes me shudder a little that in this technologically advanced world job-sharing is still shunned, part-timers are the scurge of the workplace and flexible work practices have to be begged for. 

What's up with that?

8 comments:

MandyE (Twin Trials and Triumphs) said...

Oh, don't even get me started on this one! In the US, we have 6 weeks paid maternity leave, or 8 with a C-section. We can take up to 12 weeks total, using FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act), the 4-6 week balance of which is unpaid.

I had long planned to stay at home with our children, but if I hadn't, I CANNOT IMAGINE leaving them before they were at least four months old. I thought about it as the weeks went by after they were born...if I had to go back now, could I? Of course I *could* have...people do it every single day...but I just can't fathom having to leave a 6-week old infant in someone else's care.

I would love the opportunity to work part-time, to spend the majority of my time at home, with my girls, yet still maintain my professional self. But job-sharing, at least in this part of the country, and especially in corporate America, is very rare. And I'm not so motivated to work that I'm willing to change industries - or geographies - to secure such an arrangement.

I'm very fortunate that we were able to plan ahead enough to allow me to stay home, as I wanted to do. It's a real shame that so many families have to make much tougher decisions.

Grrr...blood pressure rising...must switch to a lighter topic. :) I look forward to seeing others' comments, though!

life in a pink fibro said...

Your friend should have a close look at the new Flexibile Work Practices legislation that came in at the start of this year. And get some advice. Doesn't sound as though her employer is practising any kind of practice whatsoever. Is some great info at http://careermums.com.au

Gill@OurParklife said...

great post.....

i have a few friends who have been made "redundant" as their jobs supposedly can not be made part time....

perhaps we need to look to europe for inspiration....i think countries like norway and sweden have MUCH better parental leave practices....

Anonymous said...

As life in pink fibro said, there is new Flexible Work Practice legislation. The new law just in shorcut is: 1. That the company needs to hold your role for another 12 months after 12 months mat. leave (so together 24 months). It doesn't have to be the mother who would be at home (the primary carer) the second year (or even the first). I believe if the partner choses to stay at home, the compnay needs to hold the role for him. 2. On the return to work company needs to provide flexible working arrangements if requested. In both above mentioned cases company can decline the request, but they have to have significant business reasons for it and the worker/mother can contact Fair Work Australia. From this reason most companies try to find a workable solution.
I wish this legislation was in effect when I went back to work in late 2007. What a hard time I had to fight for the flexible working arrangements (and they also made my role redundand, but in reality, the role was there, the contractor stayed in that role for another year!) Now when I am due to go back to work after my second child, everything I requested, was accepted and it was quite easy!
This legislation is such step ahead, as I don't believe there are good and suitable childcare options for under 1/ 1-year olds. This significantly changes once the child is 2 (more childcare places are available).
Marcela

Angie said...

You have an award over at my place, pop over...

Maxabella said...

Gggrrrrr... GRRRRRRRRR... This topic makes my blood boil so much I can't even formulate a cohesive sentence... GGGGRRRRROOOOOWL!!!

Jasmine said...

You're so right.

I worked for the government earlier this year for six months, but had to walk away because my department was insisting I move onto their 24/7 rotating roster - it would have meant working weekends, afternoons, night shifts.

As a single mum that's impossible for me, so didn't have a lot of choice but to leave (someone suggested I look into family day care arrangements, but really - collecting my son at midnight some days, or dropping him off at 11pm other nights? That's not fair on anyone).

At least in Australia I'm able to claim benefits until my son goes to school so it's not a huge deal. But it was frustrating - trying to get off benefits and return to work, only to lose my job because I couldn't work the ridiculous hours!

Lana said...

Howdy Neighbour

As you know I work from home on a part time basis and while the transition to work from home was extremely stressful for me due to me being HR and having to close down a physical office and make a team redundant, it all goes smoothly now. I'm lucky as all of our employees work from home and while we have set days/hours, as long as we get our work done, all is OK. A lot of business's I think find it too hard to give it a go and often have trust issues that us Mum's may only be doing the housework and off drinking coffee with our friends. I think us part timers work hard as we will do what it takes to get the job done to keep our perm part time roles so we can spend the rest of the week with our kids. Here's to more perm part time meaningful jobs and flexible work places. Let's hold a positive vision for others to receive the ideal work set up for them...whatever that may be.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...