Have you thought about Flexible Working

flexible working

Considerations and options of money and work entitlements for expectant and new mums going back to employment or starting their own business.

“If you hate your job, give it up. Enjoy yourself at home, re-engineer your life so that it is more enjoyable, and then work out what sort of job you could do instead that would take the pressure off your household expenses without making you miserable and tired.” Bonsoir 

Never take coming back off maternity leave lightly. Your values and attitudes change the moment you have a baby. What you may have loved about your job, could potentially be impossible with your new bundle. Also, what hours did you use to do? You will need to think about childcare and the cost of it, as well as your sanity in being awake virtually 24 hours in the day for the first couple of years! So, before you have a coronary, let’s look at how to fit work around your family to keep you, your family and your employer happy.

Flexible working is now a legal entitlement. However, that does not mean that your employer has to let you have it. Usually you will have arranged this with your employer before you went on maternity leave, however, some people do not realise how much having a baby changes their values and opinions about working. It’s never too late to speak to your boss and see if you can work out an agreement that suits you both.

So, what do you need to consider?

  • It’s not just the time behind the desk, you need to think about the commute and dropping your little one to childcare on the way. This costs both time and money, can you afford either? 
  • What hours does your husband work, can he work flexitime and be a part time stay at home Dad?
  • Who is the breadwinner? Can you afford for one of you to be a house-parent? 
  • Have you a burning ambition to work for yourself? Is this the time to set it all up while your partner pays the bills? 
  • If you are on your own, who can help you with childcare to make it a little lighter on the purse strings? 

So, here are some options:

Common types of flexible working

  • Flexi-time (choosing when to work, although there’s usually a ‘core’ period when you have to work)
    • Annualised hours (your hours are worked out over a year (often in set shifts with you deciding when to work the other hours)
    • Compressed hours (working your agreed hours over fewer days)
    • Staggered hours (different start, break and finish times for different employees in the same workplace)
  • Home working (working from home)
  • Self employment
  • Part-time work (working less than the normal hours, perhaps by working fewer days per week
    • Job-share (sharing a job designed for one person with someone else)

Flexi-time

You have a right to request flexible working if you have a child/children aged under 18.

If you want to ask your employer to allow you to work flexibly (which might mean later starts or working from home) then you have the right to have your request taken seriously by your employer.

Note the distinction: you have the right to ask for flexible working, not the right to have it. Your application for flexible working has to be written, signed and dated.

Your employer isn’t obliged to allow your request, but he (or she) is obliged to follow a proper procedure, including meeting you. He or she has to stick to a timetable and give you a right to appeal if your request is refused.

Your employer must give the reasons for refusing in writing – and the reasons must be ‘business’ reasons, such as that it would cost them a lot more, or that your request would have a detrimental effect on customer service.

Remember that it’s not appropriate for your employer to grill you about your childcare arrangements during the course of discussions about flexible working.

One of my friends is also a working Mum. She negotiated a compressed week for when she went back to work with the same salary and benefits. Working 4 days, but fitting in her 37.5 hour week into those 4 days. It meant longer working days, but she then had one whole day with her daughter. It did save money on childcare believe it or not, and it gave her some fabulous Mummy / baby time.

The employer’s perspective:

“If you can come to an agreement with your boss about what outputs you’re going to deliver over say, a week, and then check in again after that period to prove you’ve done it, it quickly becomes apparent that you are delivering work but don’t have to sit in the office 9am-5pm to do it. If the boss is skeptical, then why not ask to try an arrangement for a trial period and then prove in this period that it will work?

“When you have a couple of days when the childcare is a dead cert, eg Nanny rather than nursery, work really hard and be very visible to make up for the days when you have to nip off at 4.30pm.

Part time working / Job share

Some people decide to go part time. The part-time worker gets to spend more time with their baby, while still contributing to the family finances and maintaining some sort of career.

Another friend decided to go back to work two days per week. She arranged a job share with another lady who did the other three days. She was responsible for recruiting that person and making sure that they were fully trained. She was still earning enough to cover the childcare costs for those two days and had plenty of time with her daughter.

The downside of part-time working is that in many careers this means one of you ending up not being in line for big promotions, pay rises or other prizes in your particular field.

Finding genuinely interesting and stimulating part-time work can also be a challenge. However it doesn’t need to be forever and once the children start school, you are then free to look at other options.

Talking to other parents in your field or place of work who are working part-time is a good way to get a feel for whether part-time working really is a viable option.

A Mum’s perspective from Mumsnet:

“I went back three days per week days after my daughter turned one and although I dearly wish I could jack it in at times we’re better off with me staying here. So many people would kill to have a flexible, well-paid part-time job. Remember your childcare costs will go down as your children age, and you keep your foot in the door with the option of increasing your hours in the future when the children are older and you want to concentrate a bit more on career again. You are also getting pension benefits.” Kiwinyc

You should receive the same treatment at work as an equivalent full-timer, so any job benefits, employment terms and conditions or opportunities open to full-timers should also be available to you. The benefits are normally ‘pro rata’, meaning that they should be in proportion to your hours.

Working from home

More employers are realising the benefits of home-workers. Less money spent on office equipment and tax relief for businesses. It also proves well for sickly or disabled children who need more care. Parents can still do a good day’s work, and be there for their kids at the same time.

The important thing to consider with this is actually being structured and making sure the family know when you are at work so as not to disturb you. You should have an area or room set aside for your work, some employers demand it, and make sure that your employer sets up a separate phone and internet line specifically for the job. If not, then you need to be rigorous at itemising your calls and time online.

Working for yourself

A lot of thought needs to go into this, as you will not be earning anywhere near the same amount as you would be when you were employed until the business gets off the ground, however you can work around your children and have the best of both worlds.

Considerations for this, are initial outlays that your business may need and then marketing the business to start earning money. If you and your partner can afford for you to take time out to do this, then it’s the best way of starting a new enterprise.

Other options are, for example, buying into a franchise. This is an already established business, so the processes will already be in place, the marketing tools will be available to you and you can start earning a lot quicker. Obviously there is the initial outlay, but you will get back your investment quicker.

So, financially, where are we going with all of this?

You have the right to return to the same job

  • You have the right to ask for flexible working and with choices like compressed or staggered hours, you can be earning the same amount you were before you were pregnant
  • Remember childcare voucher schemes for employed people. These can mean the difference between working two days or four days per week. Speak to your employer as they may have childcare voucher schemes in place already, if not, then talk to them about it and explain to them that it is a tax incentive.

Check out http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/family/childcare-vouchers or

http://www.childcarevouchers.co.uk/Employers/HelpAndSupport/Pages/FAQs.aspx

You have the same statutory employment rights as your full-time colleagues

  • Part-time and job-share work on a pro-rata basis, so you will be earning a lot less. You need to weigh this up with the cost of your childcare and fuel or public transport costs.
  • Remember to claim your credits and benefits if you are entitled to them. It doesn’t matter how proud you are about paving your own way in life, everyone is entitled to child benefit. To find out more about all the credits and benefits available, use the government site link: https://www.gov.uk/browse/benefits/tax-credits
  • Speak to one of our financial advisers at Evolution for Women about your mortgage, pension, life insurance and mortgage payment protection. Make sure everything is up to date and includes the fact that you now have dependents in the household.
  • Remember to use your maternity exemption card, you get free prescriptions and dental care for a year after your little one is born.
  • Have a look at Evolution for Women website, it is full of freebies, such as a monthly budget planner, a Christmas budget planner and you can subscribe to a monthly newsletter, all to help you make the most of your money.

Evolution for Women is a business of female financial advisers, here to help women with their money needs. Putting a feminine touch to finances, they are here to listen to you and take you through all aspects of finance at your own pace and with dignity and integrity. They will look at your whole circumstances and advise you on the best course of action for your family and especially your children’s needs.Our specialism’s encompass:

Our specialism’s encompass:

  • Insurance for Families – critical illness, life insurance, disability, unemployment, Childrens’ critical illness can be covered too.
  • Estate planning – will writing
  • Arranging mortgages

Some of you may wonder why we specialise in dealing with women and have female financial advisers, well here is an exerpt from a recent book which sums it up rather nicely:

The book called Financial Advice for Independent Women is written by the infamous Mrs Moneypenny who writes for the Financial Times. Is she right, do women need different financial advice from men? She gives a few sensible reasons why they might:

“For a start, women live longer than men—the average woman in the UK will live 2.8 years longer  than the average man. Women are also more likely to be caring for dependents, whether they are children or older relatives. And globally they earn less than men: In the UK the gender pay gap is 18.2 percent. 70 percent of the world’s poor are women.”

“Considered as a general group, women are under more financial strain than men—they have to support more people with less money—which suggests perhaps they do need different advice from most men. At the same time, in the UK only 11 percent of senior managers in banking are women—and a male-dominated banking sector is less likely to be sensitive to the specific needs of women customers, whether they are single mothers, caring for older relatives, or simply struggling along on four-fifths of the salary of their male colleagues.”

In conclusion, whichever road you choose, make sure that you are happy with the outcome and that your job and your finances are protected and not stretched to the limit, allowing you time and money to enjoy your new precious offspring.

If you are thinking of working for yourself and are interested in a new direction, then give us a call as we are currently recruiting. http://evolutionforwomen.co.uk/financial-adviser-jobs

For further finance and general information, please have a look at our website: http://evolutionforwomen.co.uk/

Also:

  • Child Benefit helpline 0845 302 1444
  • Tax Credit Helpline 0845 300 3900
  • Child Maintenance Options 0800 988 0988 www.cmoptions.org
  • Child Support Agency (CSA) 08457 133133 www.csa.gov.uk
  • Citizens’Advice Bureau 08444 111 444 (England) 0844 477 2020 (Wales) www.citizensadvice.org.uk 5p per minute from landline, more from mobiles
  • Department of Work and Pensions www.dwp.gov.uk