Part-Time Track Jobs For Mainstream Professionals?

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bwfatherBusinessweek’s cover story this week is about how fathers do the work/family balancing act. The article talks about how men want to be more involved in family life as well as women but face their own unique obstacles yada yada, but this part caught my eye:

When Trombley [research engineer at Ford Motors] was expecting his first child, he and his wife, who also works at Ford, weren’t thrilled with the child-care options available, and she wasn’t eager to become a stay-at-home mother. Trombley remembered that a colleague from several years back had worked out a novel solution with her husband, with both taking part-time schedules to allow them to split the week up and each be home with their kids for half of it. Ford didn’t offer paternity leave, but it did offer a part-time track so long as an employee’s manager approved it. When baby Dylan arrived, Trombley went to his bosses and told them he wanted to drop down to 70 percent and work from home two days a week. […] There are now three other men in his department with similar part-time setups; there were none when Trombley started.

Is there a list of large, Fortune 500 employers that offer such a “part-time track” option? I only found some job board sites like 10til2 and FlexJobs. I did find this 2004 research paper Beyond the Mommy Track: The Influence of New-Concept Part-Time Work for Professional Women on Work and Family [pdf]. From the abstract:

Compared to their counterparts who worked full time, mothers who worked in these part-time positions reported significantly greater work/family balance and did not report significantly less career opportunity. The part-time group reported 47% fewer work hours and 41% lower income than the full-time group. These data support the notion that new-concept part-time work is a viable option to assist women in professional careers to successfully integrate their family career.

I’m selfishly fascinated by the idea of part-time work for salaried jobs (as opposed to hourly workers). I’ve met part-time doctors, engineers, professors, lawyers, even judges. For most of them it’s been a figure-it-out-yourself exercise, but hopefully the idea of breaking down the traditional “full-time” job into smaller pieces is gaining momentum in the corporate world. It would not only be great for mothers and fathers, but anyone who wants more control over their life.

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  1. and this is why the chinese economy will destroy ours soon lol…

  2. Did Trombley lose benefits because he was no longer full-time? I would bet so. That’s the #1 reason most people don’t do this more today I think – healthcare benefits that you need for your family.

  3. Alexandria says

    The problem I personally find with the part-time track is that it is usually chosen by women (moms) who are willing to be paid in pennies. For example, to work one less hour per week in my own industry, I would lose all benefits. I don’t have *many* benefits to speak of. No health insurance. But the loss of sick time concerns me (especially with kids). I’d lose vacations and all the professional dues ($1500-ish per year) that my employer pays. I personally think all this is B.S. Several well-meaning people have told me my industry is GREAT for part-time, but I am not so sold. The hours can sometimes be brutal. (That’s the problem – often you work 40 hour weeks anyway, but just aren’t compensated as well because you are “part time.”).

    That said, I am an accountant, and the part-time jobs are plentiful and can pay rather well in the grand scheme of things. I would like to switch to part-time eventually. I am sure I have it better than most. It’s common to work 24-hours per week most the year while getting full-time + work in the spring. We also have a women who only works one month every quarter. When I “Retire” I would love to keep working 1/3 of the year.

  4. I would love to work p/t with benefits. I recently picked up a new contract job after a very long time of p/, freelance and random contract assignments since a 2009 layoff. Lucky for me, I paid off the mortgage and have no kids to support, but I still have at least $2,000 of expenses each month in high-tax CT.

    My new contract job is starting at 3 days a week, supposed to go to 5. The pay is much better than i’ve earned of late, but still i have no benefits, so health insurance, until obamacare starts in 2014, continues to be tied for $1 expense (with property taxes). I hope that obamacare will lessen the cost of health insurance for people like me who have to purchase it on their own, but I’m not confident that will be the case.

    Ideally, I’d work a 4 day week to give me a break from the long commute (over an hour), and I’d have the benefits that other employees take for granted.

  5. I’m a software engineer for a DoD company and my dept has 2 ppl. One is a guy early 50’s and another is a mom maybe mid 30’s. it seems to work for them.

  6. The benefits almost always factor into these decisions – healthcare being king among them.

    If only we had some sort of national healthcare plan, one which would not only benefit individuals who could have take more career risk (and potential reward) while removing the burden of healthcare from employers as well as make it easy for their less-than-productive employees leave but do not because they need the healthcare benefits tied to the job. Seems like a win-win … unless you run a health insurance company or lobby for one.

    If only …

  7. mvp’s comment is really puzzling. I can’t imagine how 1 engineer working 70% will doom our economy. I suspect that $1 /hr Chinese labor has more to do with China’s economic success than anything we do here.

  8. My company (large multinational engineering consultancy) offers benefits to part time employees provided they are “20 hour” employees (minimum of 20hrs/week) or greater. The downside is that if you work more hours than your minimum, your sick, vacation & holiday accruals remain at the prorated amount. Full healthcare is provided though (I think… I’m not too sure as we get it through my partner’s work which offers a better deal).
    That said, I don’t think my company hires too many new people into part time roles. It’s more common to be a way of retaining an employee who has kids after having worked there a while (which was my situation).
    I totally agree with the comment about feeling like I have a good work-life balance – I work 3 short days and stay at home with the kids 2 days. Daycare is flexible with me adding an extra day here or there if I have a deadline.
    I’m not so sure about the long term career track though. I don’t really feel like I’ve progressed very far up the ladder since having my first baby… but then again I’m not exactly a go-getter, and my current level of responsibility makes it easier to balance work & life too.

  9. Why is everyone concerned about losing healthcare benefits if working part time raising kids? Unless you are a single parent, your spouse will likely have health benefits from his employer that can extend to the entire family.

    An interesting sidenote, I just read an article about the “good old days” and how the average american worked 60/hrs a week up until the 1980s. Today it is 40hrs. Surprisingly, Americans work less hours as the decades go by, yet, we are all claiming to be overworked these days. Folks, our ancestors worked harder than most of us do today….

  10. My last 5 years at IBM were part-time (4 days a week). My pay was reduced 20%, but I got to keep the benefits. I was the only male that I knew of that requested part-time work. I tried not to work extra hours during the 4 days I was there because there’s no reason to work 40 hours and only get paid for 32, but some times it was unavoidable.

    I loved getting every Friday off and it allowed me to do some things with my youngest child that I wasn’t able to do with my older kids. I would highly recommend working part-time if you can afford to do so.

  11. Go into healthcare… I was an ICU/ER nurse and worked 2-3 days a week making 75k in Wisconsin. First year new graduate out of college too…not too shabby and was nice having 2 full weeks of every month. Moved up now though and working 3 days a week with a higher salary in a different position. 12 hour shifts is where it’s at.

  12. @E – Since you’re anonymous, care to share the name of your company? McKinsey? Atkins?

    @Patrick – I think a lot of people would like a 80% full-time equivalent job, but I agree it’d be hard to judge how much work is expected.

    @Delta – Agreed, the medical professional tends to be the best for flexible schedules although you may be expected to work on nights and weekends as well.

  13. I’d gladly do a 60-70% work from home without any benefits. Wife’s company provides benefits and she is a director too but works an honest 40 hour week. Right now I’m working 60-70 hour weeks.

    This really sounds awesome. But I could never get away with it at my company.

  14. I work for a major cpg company as a contractor and have a part time gig (30 hours a week) at a pro-rated salary (it does pay decently). I went in 40 hours, and after having my daughter, negotiated part time and no travel. Since it correlated with a budget benefit on their side and I had a decent reputation at the company, they were willing to give it a go. HFast forward two years and I’ve been able to keep my set up despite a change in command. What I’ve learned is it all comes down to who you work for, what they need from you, and whether they trust you, they’re not going to give you something if you don’t ask, and you have to have negotiating power in the process. They want me more than I want them, and that’s what makes this work. I do lean on my husband’s benefits and do wish more people had this option. It’s what keeps my sanity in check.

  15. My husband I are planning to both work part-time to take care of our new baby as well. I’ll work 20 hours/week and he will work 30 hours/week. We are curious about what kind of schedule you and Mrs. MMB work to be able to cover all of the work hours you each need and also all of the time you need to be taking care of Baby MMB. We’ve found that it has been a challenge to come up with a schedule that makes sense for all of us. Thanks! And BTW – we are huge fans of your blog!

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