Have you negotiated for reduced hours at work for medical reasons?
September 8, 2018 12:08 AM   Subscribe

I work full time in a job I like, and I have consistently great performance reviews. I also deal with PTSD and anxiety that I manage very well, but managing them also takes a lot of time and energy. I know that I'd be happier and healthier if I could work fewer hours, and I'm confident I could get my work done if I worked 80% of full time instead. How do I ask for (and get) this?

If it helps, I work in a nonprofit with about 30 staff. I'm in a non-managerial role in communications. I'm in Ontario, Canada.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have answers for you based on location. But I did do this is the US with a doctors note for a reduced schedule for approximately 6 months while I did some intensive work for PTSD. It was fine through US FMLA laws, which don't apply to you. But basically I treated my PTSD as a medical condition (because it is), and reported it to HR in the same way you'd discuss a broken ankle or hand. You need time to recover but don't need to be off work completely.

I had a few weeks for hospitalization, followed by a half week schedule and slowly ramped back up to full time. It was great for me.

I think it would have been harder to get a permanent accommodation though.
posted by AlexiaSky at 4:33 AM on September 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

I negotiated something similar, although I'm spending my non-work hours on a personal project. For me I went to my boss and explained my position and said I was interested in quitting but that I wanted to contract back for fewer hours. Instead they wanted to keep me full time but with reduced hours (to keep me from going to a competitor and to make it easier for me to go back to proper full time). We worked out a plan where I took a % salary cut, and if I did it again I would have just proposed that plan initially. They wanted to set it up as a 1 year trial and then evaluate it after that, which was a good idea

That's my experience, and I think in your position I would propose a plan to stay legally full time with reduced hours for reduced salary + a time frame to re-evaluate. That would make it clear that this is about your health and it isn't some negotiating tactic, and any sensible company that values you should listen. Good luck with whatever you choose!
posted by JZig at 7:00 AM on September 8, 2018

I asked for and got a reduction to a 32-hour work week based on nothing but wanting more free time. I presented it as a win-win - they could spend less money and in reality probably get pretty much the same amount of work out of me and I could have more time away from work and be happier with my life and my job. It wasn't hard to sell. It lasted for a year or two and then some things changed at work and they asked me to go back to 40 hours (and I agreed) because they felt like they needed me more. If your job is to complete X, Y, and Z within a certain time frame (as opposed to working steadily on something that always needs doing and never actually gets finished) and you feel confident you can complete the work in 80% of the time, they'd be dumb to pass up the potential savings.
posted by Redstart at 8:24 AM on September 8, 2018 [3 favorites]

Hi, I went from 40 to 32 hours at my non-profit job just by presenting that I needed to reduce my time as I needed additional time off for health and self-care. No one asked me any questions further than "When do you want to start that schedule?" I would start by just saying that's what you want, as you might not even need to say more.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 9:28 AM on September 8, 2018

Would your job allow you to work remotely? You could consider negotiating for that instead. If you have a normal commute, you'll save time there (five hours a week, if you spend half an hour each way, possibly plus some time you'd normally spend getting ready), and you'll also probably have much more flexibility to work only as much as needed.
posted by pinochiette at 9:34 AM on September 8, 2018 [1 favorite]

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