My friend Julie told me that she is a bit of a trailblazer in her practice in terms of part-time working. When she returned from maternity leave, she negotiated a new contract.
Given the level of criticism of child-unfriendly working practices in architecture, I was impressed. So what are the arrangements?
Evidently she is highly valued, so when she said fulltime employment would be too much, her employer agreed. She settled on working 30 hours a week, which means knocking off promptly at 5pm and taking a day off every fortnight, either in one lump or two halves.
Julie feels this is a reasonable arrangement, but I wondered what happened to the 'showing willing'element.
After all, architects contracted to work 40 hours a week regularly do more than that, and Julie would not want to be seen as a clock-watcher. On the other hand, she does not want to end up working as long as her colleagues. Not only would that be tough on her 18-month-old daughter, it would also be unfair, as she is only getting three-quarters of their pay. 'I work up to 35 hours and if it is any longer I charge overtime, ' she told me. Pretty reasonable, I thought, but there was something that struck a chord. Of course,35 hours is the standard working week, but as far as Julie is concerned, that is part-time working.
It seems architecture still has some way to go in developing family-friendly policies.