Can I go part time to look after my grandchildren?

I’m a grandparent in my 50s. My daughter is a single parent and can’t afford childcare five days a week so I want to help out. I currently work full time, but want to reduce to three days so I can help out with childcare. What’s the best way of making the case for this as I know my employer is stretched at the moment and my new manager is not in favour of part-time working? Another colleague who does a similar job has worked part time for years. Can I use that to show there is a precedent?

Grandparents caring responsibilities

Grandparents caring for grandchildren under 12 may qualify for Class 3 National Insurance credits

What would parents do without grandparents. How lovely you want to help out your daughter with childcare and reduce your full-time role to three days. It’s important to also think about when you’d like to make this change – this process can be tricky, but there are some strategies you can use to make your transition easier for both you and your manager.

One of the ways of making the case to drop down to three days is:

1. Prepare by compartmentalising your role

When you switch to three days, you might decrease your work time by one-third of your full-time hours. This means that you probably won’t be able to fulfil all your typical responsibilities while working three days. Therefore, your employer will have to designate responsibilities to other team members or hire another part-time employee to handle them.

To be courteous in making your request to go three days, prepare by compartmentalising your role into different areas of expertise. Sectioning off your duties can help you and your employer better visualise how this shift will function in reality. By committing to a three days/week, you can also remain respectful of your employer’s time while still being realistic about expectations.

2. Schedule a meeting with your manager

The next step in this process is to schedule a meeting with your manager; it’s a good idea to tell them what it’s about if you want to prepare them for your request.

During this meeting, make your request to go three days a week respectfully by laying out all the necessary details. You might even want to rehearse or write a script of what you will say to your employer when you make the proposition. This can help you stay organised and focused during the meeting.

Personally, I wouldn’t recommend bringing up your colleague who does a similar job and who has worked part time for years initially; however, if your manager shows resistance, at a later meeting I believe you could use that to show there is a precedent if it is working well.

3. Submit a formal request and collaborate on solutions

When you meet with your employer, it’s a good idea to submit a written request along with your verbal conversation. This can help your employer avoid uncertainty and document your request for future reference. As your request will probably be a challenge to navigate for both you and your manager, it’s important to offer to collaborate on solutions.

Here’s an example of what you can say in the meeting with your manager as a part of your request:

“Many thanks for taking the time to meet with me today. I wanted to discuss my current workload and schedule with you. As I am keen to help out my daughter with childcare, I don’t feel I currently have the time to commit myself full time to this role. I care about this organisation, so instead of being unrealistic about what you can expect from me, I’d like to request to switch to a three-day week schedule.

I have prepared a proposal for how we can navigate this transition in terms of timeline and my current duties. I’d like to retain my xxxxxx and designate my xxxxx to another team member if possible. I could see this shift benefiting the team’s efficiency in the long run. I know that this request involves many considerations, and I’m prepared to collaborate with you on how we can best approach this transition, given I know how stretched you are at the moment.”

If your new manager is not in favour of part-time working, suggest a trial period for a few weeks before making it official. This could give you and your manager a chance to come up with the best ways to cover your responsibilities. It might be even more beneficial to cut down a little at a time, for instance, to go from five days to four days, then from four to three the week after to reach your desired number of days.

It’s important to reassure your manager – your request to transition to three days may be met with slight resistance. Your manager will likely miss having you in the office once you reduce your days, so reassure them that you will still be there to cover your responsibilities as needed and offer to train the person who will take on the other portion of your responsibilities.

In the months leading up to your request, ensure that you’re doing high-quality work. If you have a fantastic performance record, you are more valuable to the organisation; and because of this, your manager might be more willing to accommodate your request.

Good luck!

*Liz Sebag-Montefiore is a career coach and Director of 10Eighty, a strengths-based HR consultancy. For more information, please visit

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