The chief advantage of part-time work is that you have more time to spend with your family. At that same time, part-time work enables a woman to continue her career and, in some cases, stay on track toward promotions and general advancement. A part-time employee keeps her feet in the working world and may find it less difficult to transition to a full-time job later on.
On the flip side, many part-time workers complain that they work full-time hours while being paid part-time wages. Technology, from cell phones to BlackBerries and the Internet, makes it possible to be “on call” 24/7. Boundaries are important. It’s difficult for many part-time employees to say, “No, I am off today.” Some part-time moms complain they are left out of the decision-making loop at work.
On the home front, some moms complain that their nonworking time is spent doing chores and running errands. A Brandeis University study found that switching to part-time can hurt a marriage. According to the study, marital satisfaction generally declined for the part-time working women they surveyed because the women felt they had to do the housework during their time off, while their full-time working husbands failed to chip in.
But, according to a recent study published in the journal Family Relations, overall, part-time professionals have less work-to-family conflict and strain than full-time professionals. According to the survey, there was less job-related travel, unnecessary work, and work-to-family conflict, and greater work-family success, childcare satisfaction, and family success. However, as in the Brandeis study, the survey found that mothers expressed dissatisfaction with the more traditional division of labor in household responsibilities and less career opportunity and overall work success.
Compensation vs. Costs
Part-time professionals receive less pay and benefits on a per-hour basis than their full-time counterparts. Benefits may be pro-rated and eliminated entirely. This may not be a significant issue for some women if their spouse has an adequate benefits package that covers health insurance and other necessary benefits.
Part-time working moms complain about commuting times and the cost of transportation, clothing, lunches, etc., since they do not have a full-time income to pay for these
Daycare is a big concern. It’s very difficult to find a quality daycare that will admit children part-time. Some moms resort to paying for full-time care or using home care, though a nanny may be prohibitively expensive for many. Some moms take their children to home daycare centers or rely on family members to watch their children while they’re working.
Summer break and school vacations pose another problem. Most part-timers are not off in the summer and must find care for their children. It’s important to do a cost-benefit analysis to ensure that the high cost of care during the summer doesn’t trump the wages earned during the school year.
By Sharon Reed Abboud. Excerpted with permission from ALL MOMS WORK: Short-term Career Strategies for Long-range Success by Sharon Reed Abboud (Capital Books, www.capital-books.com).