Cutting My Hours Without Losing My Job
January 24, 2012 12:47 PM   Subscribe

I work in an environment that sometimes allows employees to downshift to part-time status. How to ask? Details inside.

I am currently working full-time, and am also enrolled in a rigorous graduate certificate program that will allow me to transition into a different, more lucrative field with much more career potential. I am taking the program very seriously, and after a lot of thought, have decided that I need to downshift to part-time hours rather than full-time so I can fully concentrate on my studies, keep earning a paycheck, and not collapse in an exhausted, anxious heap.

How do I ask? Please note that I do not want to disclose my enrollment in this certificate program, because it will clearly advertise my intentions to work in a different field and my eventual intention to work elsewhere, which may jeapordize my job in the meantime (and food on the table, and health insurance, and...) So please do not suggest that as an option. I am looking for another way to explain my desire to shift down to a part-time schedule without raising red flags. I really need this job. Thanks, MeFites!
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Just tell them that you need to be cut down to part-time in order to take care of some pressing personal issues (emphasis on the "personal.") If they press you for info and you're down to having to lie you could always say you've been advised to not speak about them to anybody until they're resolved, for legal reasons.
posted by griphus at 12:57 PM on January 24, 2012

griphus, the first thing I would think of if someone told me that is that she's been arrested.

I would say that you want to spend more time with family.
posted by desjardins at 1:18 PM on January 24, 2012

Can you tell them that you are taking classes that are related to your current job? It could involve a decent bit of lying, especially if people want to help you with your assignments or something, but if you are going to be hiding what you are doing with half of your time, you are going to have to do some lying.
posted by Rock Steady at 1:21 PM on January 24, 2012

griphus, the first thing I would think of if someone told me that is that she's been arrested.

Hm, didn't think of that. "Family issues" is always a good backup.
posted by griphus at 1:22 PM on January 24, 2012

If this is a standing program where you work, I doubt they're going to grill you that much. Unless you have to fill out an affidavit or something, just say you have a personal project that you'd like to devote some time to.
posted by sageleaf at 1:30 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Maybe you could look sheepish and say "I'm writing my novel."
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:39 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

How did the other employees ask? Are you friendly with any of them? If so I would ask one of them for advice. If not, maybe just explain that you're engaging in some personal betterment activities (dance classes! art classes! newly developed pottery hobby) and that you want to talk about the possibility of cutting your hours.

Go in with a plan of what tasks you would need to keep, how many hours it would take you to do them, and what it would mean for the projects you will not be able to spend time working on. Are there other staff who would be willing to take them on and have the capacity? WOuld they need to hire another person to fill the gaps?

If you have a plan and can pitch it to your employer in a way that makes it clear that you are doing them a favor by reducing your hours you might have a better shot of it. Obviously this is a tricky scenario. I was able to do it when I had a very flexible employer who knew I was engaging in school activities. A friend was abel to do it when she was dealing with ongoing health complications and needed to reduce her stress. But only you know your manager's emotional/professional style. If you're feeling like proposing this would be an invitation to fire you I would tread very carefully and think hard about whether it's worth the risk.
posted by nerdcore at 1:55 PM on January 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have a relative that needs me to care for them, so it would be helpful if I could go part time for the rest of the year. Hopefully, they will be fine by then and I could potentially move back to full time if required.
posted by bystander at 3:27 AM on January 25, 2012

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