Negotiation Skills - Part Time Hours

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Part time working can encompass

  • Part time contracts from 20% – 90%
  • Term time only contracts
  • Job shares

As well as

  • Condensed hours (e.g. a nine day fortnight)
  • Annualised hours (where you flex your hours to meet peaks and troughs over the year)

Finding Part Time Work

It can be a challenge to find part time work advertised openly in HE. If you see a full time role for which you are well qualified, consider approaching the employer about taking up the role part time or as a jobshare (with either you or the employer finding a jobshare partner). It is easier to negotiate this in the final stages of the recruitment process. Many employers are only too happy with the budget saving. You will need to give a convincing case for how the advertised job can be completed or redesigned to fit in the time you have available.

For many people, negotiating to reduce their hours in their present role is a more realistic prospect.

Reducing Your Hours

If you have  a child aged under 17 or adult caring responsibilities you have a legal right to request flexible or part time working. Find out more at

Anyone can request part time or flexible working, however, and if you can put a convincing case you are likely to get it.

There is no need to worry about a switch to part timework jeopardising your job security or employment benefits. There is legal protection for part time workers not to be treated less favourably than full timers.

Negotiating Strategies

Work Smarter

With money tight in the HE sector , your employer is likely to be delighted if you can convince them you can carry out most or all of your job duties in fewer hours (say 80%).

Look at your job responsibilities and log how you use your time. Are all your tasks really essential ? Could any office or teaching responsibilities be delegated to junior staff? Could you achieve more if you worked at home more frequently?

Be Prepared to Negotiate

If you simply cannot afford the drop in salary, and you are a valued and experienced member of staff, consider asking for a condensed working week (for example, a nine day fortnight working longer hours on full pay). In return perhaps you could offer to work longer hours at times of high demand or work antisocial hours occasionally where this would help the department. 

Know Your Value

With expertise in your field and a sound knowledge of your institution, you could be expensive and difficult for your employer to replace. Recruitment and training costs to replace you are likely to be at least 20% of your salary – and there may be a gap whilst your successor is recruited. Consider how short term performance might be affected too if someone new were taken on.

Think through the Practicalities

Consider how part time working would affect your role. Anticipate any problems and suggest solutions. Could you drop attendance at all your dept meetings? What about training and research activities (in your time or theirs?). What will happen if people have queries whilst you are out of the office? If you are negotiating a jobshare think about handover time and how you could help train the other party.

Beware of offering to catch up on tasks at home – you could be swapping  a full time salary for a part-time one but just changing your place of work. Clear boundaries are a must.

Present a Business Case

Arrange a formal meeting with your line manager to discuss options or use your annual review. Set out your arguments in writing, stressing benefits and  cost savings and send in advance to allow your manager to prepare. Be prepared to negotiate on the details. If your employer declines, suggest a trial period or ask for a review at a specific future date in case circumstances change.

With many institutions now restructuring their workforces and looking for creative ways to do more with less staff, now could be the perfect time to renegotiate your hours.

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