Saturday 19 January 2019

'I'm a working mum being paid for a four-day week but expected to do five days' work. What can I do?'

Being a working mum is a juggling act
Being a working mum is a juggling act

Karen O’Reilly

Your questions answered.

Question I recently moved to a four-day week as I found the juggle of a full-time job and the rearing of two children too difficult. However, although my pay has been cut by a fifth to reflect the fact that I’m no longer working five days, I’m finding that I’m still expected to produce the same amount of work in four days as I did in five days. This seems very unfair and is putting me under enormous pressure. What can I do?               

Grace, Co Dublin


Answer This is something we hear a lot — that is, when a person is offered a four-day week but is expected to do the work of a full week in that time. My first advice is to talk to your boss or human resources  (HR) manager and explain to them that this is unsustainable and that as you say, is very unfair and putting you under enormous pressure.

In approaching your boss or the HR department, it is always best to put everything in writing. Also, go to your hiring manager with a solution to the issue you have.

For example you could identify tasks that can be taken off your desk or a new account which someone else could take over easily.

By providing a well-thought-out solution that suits your needs and also does not affect the bottom line for the company, you have a much better chance of getting a positive response from your employer.

Another question to address is whether or not you have a new contract since you have changed from full-time to part-time — and if your duties are laid out clearly in this regard.

You will need to go through this with your employer and highlight that you cannot possibly do a full-time job in part-time hours.

The Work Relations Commission (WRC) has some very clear guidelines for employers when an employee moves from full-time to part-time work. One of the considerations is how the applicant’s proposed revised hours will fit with the tasks of his or her job and how these tasks will be performed during the period of part-time work.

I would be querying my boss as to what considerations he or she has taken to allow for the fact that the role has changed from full-time to part-time.

If your boss does not make allowances for the fact that the role is now part-time, I would contact the WRC for advice on how to proceed. The information line for the WRC is 059-9178990. You can also visit the WRC’s website on


Karen O’Reilly is the founder of Employmum, an agency which specialises in finding flexible work solutions for women and mothers returning to the workplace.

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