As a working parent it can be a real challenge to balance all our responsibilities. We need – and want – to be there for our children, but we also need to bring in enough money to live our lives. For many of us a fulfilling career is an important goal, too. Is it possible to have it all, and is part-time working the answer? Or is full-time work the best option?
Deciding whether to pursue full- or part-time working is a real dilemma. There are pros and cons of each approach, and the right choice is different for everyone.
For many of us the idea of working part time is very appealing. It gives us the chance to continue with our career at a time when we might be looking towards retirement, or simply want to scale back on working hours.
You might choose to work shorter hours to be there for senior family members, or support your children when they welcome their own children into the world. Or perhaps you just wish you could work a three or four day week, so that you get a full day at home to spend time on other commitments or activities.
Part-time work is often the solution to balancing all our responsibilities.
The most obvious disadvantage of part-time work is that you’ll earn less. Your salary will decrease in line with the number of hours you give up, as will your annual leave entitlement and some other benefits.
Some people also find that they are expected to deliver largely the same volume of work in their shorter hours, which can give them the sense that they’re working harder, for less money.
In addition, a 2019 survey by workingmums.co.uk found that one in three flexible and part-time workers feel that they are discriminated against in the workplace. While it’s illegal for part-time workers to be treated any differently from full time employees, it’s very common to hear it said that someone ‘only works part-time’ and for people to imply you are less committed to work than a full-time employee.
Working part time can also hamper your career progression, especially if your employer believes that the next role on the career ladder can’t be performed on a part-time basis.
Nevertheless, workplaces are gradually becoming more flexible and top employers are recognising that parents are a vital and productive resource. We can all hope that some of these disadvantages disappear in the coming years.
In making your decision on a part time vs full time job there are lots of factors to consider. The first of course is money, and whether you can afford to take a cut in pay.
You might that you can compensate for the change in income by making a few other lifestyle changes – shopping in a cheaper supermarket, for example or cancelling your gym membership.
Your career ambitions are an important factor too. Can you cope with the possibility that part time working might harm your chances of promotion?
Finally, and most importantly, think about the impact of not working part-time. How will it affect your home life, your family and your personal happiness? These should be the ultimate factors in your decision making. Everyone’s situation is different, and the only person who can decide what’s right is you.