Is the road to recovery paved with part-time?

After finding myself unexpectedly in the job market straight out of parental leave, I knew I wanted to secure a part-time role so I could provide the best of me to both my employer and my family.

‘Not a worry’ I thought to myself. ‘I have so much to offer an employer will surely see my potential to deliver maximum value in a less than full-time capacity’. The naïve and overly optimistic flexible work advocate part of my brain was clearly firing on all cylinders that week!

Very quickly I realised there were NO senior roles offered on a part time basis. And when I enquired about what the ‘flexible working options available’ line tacked on the bottom of a job advert meant, I was generally met with a ‘well it means you could work from home sometimes… like if you really had to, say if something blew up and there was no one in your family or extended network who could attend to the crisis’. Yeah… reaaaaaaaally flexible.

I was told by a few recruiters early in my job search that I would have to lower my employment expectations if I wanted to work part-time. That ‘leadership roles just aren’t done part-time’ instead they apparently require 5 day commitment, presumably to stand and crack the whip over the pesky employees who are likely to get into all sorts of mischief without constant supervision (can you hear my eyes rolling??).

I have a connection who is returning from parental leave imminently. She requested to work 3 days a week which was readily approved weeks ago. It’s only now that her employer decided to mention that she won’t have the team leadership responsibilities she had before she went on leave. The reason? She can’t possibly manage a team (of 1 reasonably senior person mind you) in only 3 days… really? She is, in effect, being demoted due to her flexibility requirements.

It’s ridiculous that in this day and age, organisations simply can’t conceive of a roles being done in way other than the way it's always been done before. And unless legally obliged to (a right I disappointingly lost by being made redundant) most organisations won’t generally consider offering roles, particularly senior roles, part-time.