Many working women think about going part-time due to work-life balance issues, dependent care responsibilities or due to personal problems or preferences. Part-time work or flexible working hours possibility also offers the working mother a much-desired choice of not to opt-out of the workforce after having a baby.

If you are in such a situation where you wish to go part-time from a full-time position, then this article may be of help as it offers some tips and tricks on how to master this very tricky negotiation.

According to the US Office of Personnel Management, The courts have also ruled that flexible and compressed work schedules are fully negotiable. In Bureau of Land Management v. Federal Labor Relations Authority, 864 F.2d 89 (9th Cir. 1988), (Bureau of Land Management), the court held that “[i]n order for employees to have the flexibility and choice envisioned by the [Flexible and Compressed Work Schedules] statute, both the overall contours of the employees’ available choices and the manner in which an individual’s choice is exercised within those contours, must be subjects included within the terms of the collective bargaining agreement and hence negotiable.”

Here are some of the terms and their definitions that you must be aware of before proceeding with the negotiations.

Flexible Work Hours
This is the part of a flexible schedule during which employees may, within agreed upon limits, choose their arrival and departure times.
Credit hours
These are hours–in addition to the basic work requirement–that employees elect to work so as to vary the length of a workweek or a workday.
Other-than-full-time employees (includes Part-time employees)
Work hours are lesser than the regular 40 hours per week as defined for a full-time employee. Because these employees work fewer than 40 hours a week and fewer than 80 hours a pay period, they are not always entitled to the same treatment/benefits as full-time employees.
Compressed Work Schedules
A compressed work schedule means that an employee’s basic work requirement for each pay period is scheduled for less than 10 workdays. Compressed work schedules are always fixed schedules. Another difference between flexible and compressed work schedules is that an employee on a flexible work schedule may be credited with a maximum of 8 hours towards the employee’s basic work requirement on a holiday or Sunday, whereas the number of holiday or Sunday hours for an employee on a compressed work schedule is the number of hours regularly scheduled for the employee to work on that day if not for the holiday.

For more details on the definitions see, the Handbook on Alternative Work Schedules.

The Part-Time Employment and Job Sharing Guide, has some interesting tips on how to make your full-time job a part-time job.
Here they are:

Keep a detailed record of what you do.

  • Could all your most important tasks be done in fewer hours?
  • Could less important tasks be discontinued or done by someone else?
  • Could your job be shared with another part-time employee?

Get information about your salary and benefits.

  • Assess changes to salary, leave earning, health insurance cost, and retirement and life insurance benefits.
  • Could you afford to earn less pay and pay more for insurance?
  • Could you do with less leave and potentially less retirement?

Research policies and practices.

  • Study Government wide policies in this guide.
  • Consult your supervisor about your agency’s policies and programs.
  • Talk to part-time employees about their experiences.

Devise a strategy.

  • Propose restructuring your full-time job into a part-time job.
  • Find a partner and propose a job sharing arrangement.
  • Apply for any part-time/job sharing vacancies.

Make a written proposal.

  • Propose a schedule and explain how your duties would be handled.
  • Focus on employer’s needs, not your own.
  • Suggest a pilot test where managers, clients, and co-workers could assess the arrangement.

The above tips were adapted from Flexibility at Work … 5 Steps To Get You Started, a brochure produced by the Association of Part-time Professionals.

Negotiating Process

While negotiating with your manager on going part-time from full-time employment, keep the simple rules of negotiation in mind:

  • A tip from Steven Covey: ‘begin with the end in mind’ – Steven Covey’s second self leadership habit. Paint a big picture of how it could be when you work part-time. Emphasize on what is in for them rather than what is in for you when you begin. Working lesser hours might be beneficial to the employer if you are ready to take only a small percentage of work cut-off.
  • Ensure your efficiency at working from home or working lesser hours. See some tips at: 7 Tips to help you Work effectively from Home