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I'm Dreaming of a Part-time 2014
Old 12-14-2013, 07:12 PM   #1
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I'm Dreaming of a Part-time 2014

I'm a 46-year old account manager at an insurance broker with no spouse/kids, a decent amount of assets & a very low cost of living. I could very easily live (& still save) on half of my current salary, & think I would find my life much more to my liking with less hours spent at the office, so I'm here to solicit advice on selling my current employer on a reduced-hours arrangement.

The barriers to my going part-time: I have clients that would need to be taken care of when I'm not there, so I have to make the case that my assistant can take care of them in my absence (she can - she's the best assistant I've ever had), or I need to be moved to a team that has more than 1 account manager so the other one is my backup, or I need a new position that does not involve the daily client service that I now perform.

I was able to successfully negotiate a (larger than normal) raise a few years back when I had an unsolicited offer from a competing firm, so I believe they will want to keep me, & the reduction in my salary will be appealing to them, but I'm not at all sure they will be open to my working part-time. Any advice welcome & thank you in advance!

(My motivation is primarily to gain more free time for care of an elderly mom & improving my own health/fitness, but I also have philosophical/political reasons for wanting to go Galt-ish.)
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Old 12-14-2013, 09:35 PM   #2
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Who is John Galt?

I will be going a similar path. I believe work (the production of value) is a good and desirable thing so my idea of retirement includes work. However, being mostly FI, it is nice to be able to choose the work (where, when, and not worry about how much.)
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Old 12-15-2013, 01:17 AM   #3
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I'm a 46-year old account manager at an insurance broker with no spouse/kids, a decent amount of assets & a very low cost of living. I could very easily live (& still save) on half of my current salary, & think I would find my life much more to my liking with less hours spent at the office, so I'm here to solicit advice on selling my current employer on a reduced-hours arrangement.

The barriers to my going part-time: I have clients that would need to be taken care of when I'm not there, so I have to make the case that my assistant can take care of them in my absence (she can - she's the best assistant I've ever had), or I need to be moved to a team that has more than 1 account manager so the other one is my backup, or I need a new position that does not involve the daily client service that I now perform.

I was able to successfully negotiate a (larger than normal) raise a few years back when I had an unsolicited offer from a competing firm, so I believe they will want to keep me, & the reduction in my salary will be appealing to them, but I'm not at all sure they will be open to my working part-time. Any advice welcome & thank you in advance!

(My motivation is primarily to gain more free time for care of an elderly mom & improving my own health/fitness, but I also have philosophical/political reasons for wanting to go Galt-ish.)
Be prepared for them to want something in return - such as elimination of your benefit package (health insurance, vacation, etc.). Maybe they won't, but be prepare to negotiate that, since I don't know what else you could offer to sweeten the pot. Maybe have a flexible schedule that will enable you to respond to clients' needs? Would a set schedule of 4 hour days or 2-3 days a week be better? Or perhaps you not being in the office at all during slow months, and then being in the office full-time for a few months at the busy times?

Make sure you point out and focus that you would like to negotiate a reduced schedule to help take care of your mom, since saying you want to cut to part-time so you can take more vacation probably won't come off quite as well (plus you have the Family Medical Leave Act vague references on your side).
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Excellent points - thanks!
Old 12-16-2013, 08:02 PM   #4
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Excellent points - thanks!

To be eligible for health insurance, an employee at my firm must work a minimum of 20 hours a week. The vacation is also pro-rated for part time employees & I would be fine with that as I currently earn 4 weeks a year.

A commitment to check in once or twice a day on my days off might be something I could offer to sweeten the pot. I could also offer to use my off days for all medical appointments, professional organization meetings, continuing ed etc. I don't want to offer more than I need to though. I could also offer to temporarily increase hours worked when necessary, but then how would that be compensated since I am salaried rather than paid hourly? Maybe going hourly would be an option. I don't want to end up doing the same work but for a fraction of the pay.

I think raising the prospect of a sudden departure if my mom had a health crisis might be something they have not considered ~ I don't want to give up my salary, but I can if I decide I need to. So many people, even those making far more than me, cannot afford to go even a few months without their paychecks, so it may not have occurred to them that I could & would if I felt that was warranted. If I'm only working part time, and either an assistant or another person in my position has been covering on my days off, it will be that much easier & more seamless if I go on FMLA or leave entirely. Of course it may make me less valuable & easy to let go as well, but that's a chance I will have to take to pursue this.
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Old 12-16-2013, 08:11 PM   #5
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Who is John Galt?

Some douchebag I would very much rather not meet in person.
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Old 12-16-2013, 09:36 PM   #6
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Or put another way...... Mr. Gault can go pound salt!
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Old 12-17-2013, 06:13 AM   #7
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I'm a 46-year old account manager at an insurance broker with no spouse/kids, a decent amount of assets & a very low cost of living. I could very easily live (& still save) on half of my current salary, & think I would find my life much more to my liking with less hours spent at the office, so I'm here to solicit advice on selling my current employer on a reduced-hours arrangement.

The barriers to my going part-time: I have clients that would need to be taken care of when I'm not there, so I have to make the case that my assistant can take care of them in my absence (she can - she's the best assistant I've ever had), or I need to be moved to a team that has more than 1 account manager so the other one is my backup, or I need a new position that does not involve the daily client service that I now perform.

I was able to successfully negotiate a (larger than normal) raise a few years back when I had an unsolicited offer from a competing firm, so I believe they will want to keep me, & the reduction in my salary will be appealing to them, but I'm not at all sure they will be open to my working part-time. Any advice welcome & thank you in advance!

(My motivation is primarily to gain more free time for care of an elderly mom & improving my own health/fitness, but I also have philosophical/political reasons for wanting to go Galt-ish.)
I started a similar arrangement 10 years ago and I'm now down to 1 or 2 days a week. What works for me is twofold:

1. An organized and experienced assistant/assistants that can handle every situation that comes up

2. My availability to handle emails and phone calls from clients and coworkers. I rarely get phone calls, and maybe get 10-20 emails a day that take about an hour a day to manage.

This arrangement has worked so well that my clients don't know that I'm only in the office 1-2 days a week. I would think that a similar arrangement would work for you as long as you show that your operations run smoothly while you're gone
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Old 12-17-2013, 07:28 AM   #8
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I'm a 46-year old account manager at an insurance broker with no spouse/kids, a decent amount of assets & a very low cost of living. I could very easily live (& still save) on half of my current salary, & think I would find my life much more to my liking with less hours spent at the office, so I'm here to solicit advice on selling my current employer on a reduced-hours arrangement.

The barriers to my going part-time: I have clients that would need to be taken care of when I'm not there, so I have to make the case that my assistant can take care of them in my absence (she can - she's the best assistant I've ever had), or I need to be moved to a team that has more than 1 account manager so the other one is my backup, or I need a new position that does not involve the daily client service that I now perform.

I was able to successfully negotiate a (larger than normal) raise a few years back when I had an unsolicited offer from a competing firm, so I believe they will want to keep me, & the reduction in my salary will be appealing to them, but I'm not at all sure they will be open to my working part-time. Any advice welcome & thank you in advance!

(My motivation is primarily to gain more free time for care of an elderly mom & improving my own health/fitness, but I also have philosophical/political reasons for wanting to go Galt-ish.)
Back in 2001, I had to threaten to quit in order to be able to switch from working full-time to part-time. Like you, I am single with no kids and was able to easily live on half of my pay. Like you, I needed to work at least 20 hours per week in order to retain eligibility for their group health insurance program. I did see a prorated reduction in my vacation time which was fine. I did switch from working on a straight salary to working on an hourly basis which was fine. I kept a careful log of all of my hours worked. Like you, I once got a special raise after I threatened to leave many years earlier which showed me the power of having leverage.

But the main thing I wanted was to greatly lessen my awful commute which had gotten slightly longer and lousier that year after my company relocated. At the time, my company had a telecommute program so not only I was able to work part-time but work about 2/3 of those reduced hours from home.

I had the leverage of 16 years of working full-time and the fact that I was the only person in my department who could do some important tasks so if they had a way to keep me, even at a reduced level, they needed to pursue that instead of letting me escape. This was later confirmed when another coworker who had my work expereince (she began working there the same time I did) but did not work on similarly vital projects) asked for a similar arrangement but was turned down. She had just become a first-time mother and chose to quit instead.

Other parts of my own situation are not quite similar to your own. First, I was not having to care for an elderly parent. (See more on that below.) Next, my job was not like yours in that a large part of my work included writing and maintaining programs, both of which could be done in the off-peak hours when the rest of the staff was not in the office (especially the maintenance part which was more efficiently done on evenings and weekends as to not interfere with their work). It does not seem like your job has as good a fit as mine did but is close to it.

Besides the computer programming work, I was also available during the day to handle emails, and there were many of them. Some of my other supervisory tasks were taken away from me such as writing performance evaluations (YAY!).

This telecommute deal lasted for 27 months until the company ended all open-ended telecommuting altogether. I was able to retain the part-time part but I had fulfill all of my hours at the office. I hated that because it brought back some of the horrors of commuting and I knew it would be my eventual undoing (it was). After 3 1/2 years of going to the office 3 days a week to work 20 hours, I needed some relief. So I asked to further reduce my hours from 20 per week to 12. This clipped one day per week from my commute and got me home an hour earlier on the 2 days I did work. As a sweetener, I agreed to spend about an hour a week from home checking and returning emails but would not do any actual programming work. I also had to forgo most of my remaining benefits because I was no longer working the minimum of 20 hours per week needed to maintain them. These included paid vacation time and eligilibity for group health insurance. (By this time, in 2007, my ER plan was in full swing so I knew I would be leaving soon anyway. I went on COBRA for 18 months to retain continuous health insurance.) My division's manager agreed to my request for a further weekly hours reduction. With my expenses so low, I was fine taking yet another pay cut. (My bosses must have thought I was crazy; most workers want to find ways to earn MORE money, here I was yet again asking to earn LESS money LOL!)

Then, in 2008, I had had enough of that deal, as I had to reduce my commute to zero so I ERed (the utimate pay reduction).

But back to the elderly parent issue. It still did not apply to me but a coworker I had in my part-time years was able to use the FMLA to reduce his weekly hours worked by about one day so he could tend to these tasks. I do not know what kind of benefits he had to give up by not quite working full-time, though (other than some of those I faced). I think having the FMLA in your back pocket will provide you some extra leverage to get the part-time deal you want. That is the one thing you have that I did not.

I hope you find this helpful.
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Old 12-17-2013, 05:48 PM   #9
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Great stuff y'all, I will be saving & re-reading to glean all these words of wisdom. Many thanks.

They definitely know about my mom...every so often I have to go "rescue" her because she's locked her keys in her car at the grocery store or something like that. And when she had her hip replacement a couple years ago I was out some for that.

I'm intrigued by the use of FMLA to take some time off each week, because I was told I can only use FMLA if I have already used up all my vacation for the year - I told Mom next time she wants a new body part, plan to have it done late in the year when my vacation's all gone LOL. FMLA is a federal law but maybe different states apply it more or less generously? (I'm in Texas.)
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Old 12-17-2013, 08:29 PM   #10
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I am going to be asking my bosses to go to a four day 32 hour workweek in April and also letting me telecommute from home 1-2 of those days each week. (I currently can telecommute a few days each month).

I have done the 80% thing before in a previous job for several years and I know firsthand how much more enjoyable work life balance is with a perpetual three day weekend ( I almost always took Mondays off). Sunday evenings were so much more pleasant at my house!

I worked out more and had so much more time to reflect on my own on that weekday off. Best time to shop or catch a weekday matinee.

The key is having the leverage to ask. If you are in a position that has responsibility to do something that no one else does and are not easily replaced, you can demand whatever is reasonable and fair.
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Old 12-17-2013, 08:47 PM   #11
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Great stuff y'all, I will be saving & re-reading to glean all these words of wisdom. Many thanks.

They definitely know about my mom...every so often I have to go "rescue" her because she's locked her keys in her car at the grocery store or something like that. And when she had her hip replacement a couple years ago I was out some for that.

I'm intrigued by the use of FMLA to take some time off each week, because I was told I can only use FMLA if I have already used up all my vacation for the year - I told Mom next time she wants a new body part, plan to have it done late in the year when my vacation's all gone LOL. FMLA is a federal law but maybe different states apply it more or less generously? (I'm in Texas.)
Employers have some discretion in how they administer FMLA. My employer requires that we use all our paid leave (vacation and sick leave) before we utilize FMLA, however, we are (in certain circumstances) allowed to use "intermittent FMLA" leave (eg, work 20 hours in a week, and use FMLA for the rest of the week). Caring for an elderly parent is one of the circumstances in which we are allowed to do this. Check your employee handbook for detailed FMLA policies for your particular employer.

Good luck; I hope you are able to find the right balance.
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Old 12-17-2013, 10:00 PM   #12
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FMLA is generally limited to 12 weeks per calendar year. It is not paid leave (although you may be able to use sick/vacation hours) but it is "job protected" leave meaning they cannot fire you for being gone.

I find it very interesting that some employers require you to use sick leave first. My understanding is that FMLA is a federal right for eligible workers. Also, by delaying they would essentially be extending your eligibility beyond 12 weeks because leave doesn't count as FMLA until your paperwork is in. If I remember correctly FMLA cannot be applied retroactively.

So if you use 6 weeks sick leave and then go on FMLA you are getting 18 weeks of leave. But what if they fire you before your FMLA paperwork is in?

I'd do some CYA by putting the words "I need some leave to care for a sick relative" in writing. If the employer says "no, don't file for FMLA yet...." you could show you were asking for it.

FMLA and leave law is complicated. Add to that the fact that states and municipalities have their own overlapping statutes...

Yeah, do some research. And best of luck getting the time you need!
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Old 12-20-2013, 10:02 AM   #13
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FMLA requires a DRs. signature for you or relatives illness. I don't know how an employer can dictate when someone is disabled. Now how you're compensated, I.e. accrued sick vs. disability insurance is something different.

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Old 12-20-2013, 05:48 PM   #14
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FMLA requires a DRs. signature for you or relatives illness. I don't know how an employer can dictate when someone is disabled. Now how you're compensated, I.e. accrued sick vs. disability insurance is something different.

MRG
OK I misunderstood. If you were to just limit your request to mom's need for care, all you need is the Dr's. signature. That is not too difficult for elder care. As stated FMLA is a Federal act. Your employer has some say, how is a year defined? Calendar or rolling 12 months, you are guaranteed an equivalent job, is it the same one? After 12 weeks what happens, law says you can be termed. Yes there are state specific laws too, but generally they are more to protect the employee. I'm very confused about the policy is take all your vacation time first. That seems to defy Federal law, perhaps your HR person doesn't understand. Yes there is intermittent FMLA, no notice just I'm going home for X, or scheduled appointments. I was on FMLA for a couple of years, had to learn a lot about the laws.

If you mix in your desire to scale back the dynamics change. I'd think about your desires. Is taking care of mom the priority, they won't know if you take a couple hours for you. Maybe thats enough, or is the bs bucket too full? PM if you want more details.
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Old 12-20-2013, 05:59 PM   #15
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Y'all are so sweet to respond w/all this info! Need to take some time to digest. Many thanks.
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Old 12-20-2013, 06:52 PM   #16
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......I'm very confused about the policy is take all your vacation time first. That seems to defy Federal law, perhaps your HR person doesn't understand......MRG
Unfortunately, employers have some leeway in regards to requiring employees to use paid leave before granting FMLA leave. My employer, for example, requires that we use all our paid leave before they grant FMLA. Our HR director is a stickler for abiding by all federal regs; our HR policies do not conflict with federal laws.

From the Department of Labor website:
FMLA regs.JPG
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Old 12-21-2013, 09:14 AM   #17
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Unfortunately, employers have some leeway in regards to requiring employees to use paid leave before granting FMLA leave. My employer, for example, requires that we use all our paid leave before they grant FMLA. Our HR director is a stickler for abiding by all federal regs; our HR policies do not conflict with federal laws.

From the Department of Labor website:
Attachment 17719
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Unfortunately, employers have some leeway in regards to requiring employees to use paid leave before granting FMLA leave. My employer, for example, requires that we use all our paid leave before they grant FMLA. Our HR director is a stickler for abiding by all federal regs; our HR policies do not conflict with federal laws.

From the Department of Labor website:
Attachment 17719
Calico thank you, I stand corrected. Mega said they taught us the law and then their specific implementation. They missed this. Certainly changes the dynamics, sure your granted the protection. Employers love to get the accrued vacation off the books.

I hated being on FMLA to begin with, I'd hate this implementation even.

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Old 12-21-2013, 09:21 AM   #18
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MRG,

Don't mention this wrinkle to your employer!
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Old 12-21-2013, 09:39 AM   #19
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MRG,

Don't mention this wrinkle to your employer!
That won't happen, I retired as of 5/1/13. The stress of FMLA helped my BS bucket get full faster. The thing that made me crazy was my paranoid manager. He really didn't give a crap if I took a part day off for FMLA. If something went paws up at 10:00 PM, he had no bones about demanding I be on a conference call for the next 14 hours. Megacorp's answer 'you two work it out'. I did for me, the look on the VP's face when I gave 2 weeks notice was priceless.
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Old 12-21-2013, 06:26 PM   #20
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That won't happen, I retired as of 5/1/13. The stress of FMLA helped my BS bucket get full faster. The thing that made me crazy was my paranoid manager. He really didn't give a crap if I took a part day off for FMLA. If something went paws up at 10:00 PM, he had no bones about demanding I be on a conference call for the next 14 hours. Megacorp's answer 'you two work it out'. I did for me, the look on the VP's face when I gave 2 weeks notice was priceless.
MRG
I'm glad you were able to free yourself from that stressful situation. Enjoy your retirement!
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