Have anyone of you ever done this? Suggestions, thoughts?
I also work for a smallish municipality. I am one of three people that are part time with benefits that are left. At least two of my co workers have approached HR with plans and met with resistance at the department level. Have you felt yours out yet?
Could you ask for 4 10 hour days? And take a 3 day weekend? Some gov't offices might allow that. I don't think there is anything wrong with asking.
I know that providing the option of a flexible and/or compressed work schedule is highly encouraged at the Federal level, and OPM (Federal Office of Personnel Management) even has a website devoted to considerations and precedents in negotiating such agreements (http://www.opm.gov/lmr/html/flexible.asp) . You might start there. Reading this through I also realized that there may be union issues involved - are you an AFSCME member? If so, do you have a contract that addresses this topic?
Government and union issues aside, you have to think about what kind of job you have, and what the impact would be on your employer and co-workers if you changed your hours. Try to anticipate their concerns, assumptions and the questions they are likely to ask so you can go in prepared with a solid case. A few important considerations:
- Does your job require that you be present at a certain time, (for example to make resources available to the public), or is it dependent upon the input/output of others who are only present during the same hours you work? Or is it the kind of thing where you could in theory do this work in the middle of the night ,and it wouldn't matter, as long as you met your deadlines and the work got done?
- What has your past performance been? if you can document that you've always been a solid employee with a history of positive performance reviews, that will help - it shows your dedication and indicates you can be trusted with an alternative arrangement. It
- Try proposing that you work your new schedule for 30 - 60 days, then reassess. Let them know you are open to having a conversation about how it's going, and that you are open to being flexible in how this plays out. (For example, maybe you can phase it in over time? I know that might play havoc with your child care arrangements)
You might even go for a written proposal. It might feel like overkill, given the small size or your outfit, but it will show your boss how serious you are about this, and will also leave him or her with something to consider after the conversation is over, especially if they are suprised by the request.
In terms of insurance - I've only worked in the private sector, where my insurance benefits are probably not as fabulous as yours. But, just about everyplace I've worked has permitted employees to cut back to 80% time without any loss of benefits or need to kick in a larger employee contribution. You might look and see if you can find statistics about this, especially if you are pretty sure you can document that you can do your whole job on a reduced schedule. (In other words, you will still be delivering full value as an employee, so you shouldn't have to kick in more for insurance.)
Good luck mama!
Excellent thoughts, thank you all! I will be sure to review the OPM site. We are such a unique little office. Literally everything in the county is unionized except our office. We fairly closely follow one of the unions contract, but technically we are not. I am going to do much more research and develop a written plan for sure. I also read through our human resources manual which does allow a reduced work schedule for up to a year after the birth of a child - so technically I could take six weeks off and then go back to work using one fmla day each week. That might be a good opportunity to seque into my proposal.
I really appreciate your responses!