Part-time training

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hawke
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Part-time training

Post by hawke » Sat Aug 22, 2020 8:45 pm

I am looking for some advice about working part-time during and after training.

I am a current trainee and have a long-term health condition that can flare up, making working full-time at best tiring, at worst impossible due to symptoms and fatigue. I've coped with the last few months by making pragmatic decisions about research and placements to be as efficient as possible with the workload and my energy. I have used flexible working, annual and study leave wisely to fit around my illness, which up until now has helped minimise any impact on my training. But the workload jump coming into third year means that's no longer enough, and both my health and work pace are suffering. I have let my course know that I would like to request to go part-time and been referred to OccHealth, but I get the impression they are not keen on offering this. My concern is that because I have self-managed it so well up until this point, this will count against me, as I can't demonstrate the impact. I have definitely cut corners but done so in a way that is invisible to others.

Does anyone have any advice about pursuing this request while training? Either for illness, mat leave, caring responsibilities etc. Or any alternatives that I haven't considered? (The course have offered to extend deadlines, but this doesn't help so much with a chronic condition.)

I am also wondering about working part-time as a qualified. Most CPs seem to work part-time, yet most jobs (particularly band 7s) I see are advertised as full-time. I am wondering whether it is better to be upfront when applying (either in the application or interview) that I am seeking part-time hours, or whether it is better to negotiate after receiving a job offer?

Any advice or words of solidarity would be much appreciated!

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workingmama
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Re: Part-time training

Post by workingmama » Sun Aug 23, 2020 11:11 am

Hello,

Sorry to hear that it's been tough. Occupational Health should be a good support to you right now, and will be able to advise you of the adjustments that are reasonable for you to request. Some of this, rightly or wrongly, may depend on whether your LTC counts as a 'disability' in the formal sense of the term. This will mean that you have more power to your elbow to insist that, within the limits of legal obligations, your course is obliged to offer appropriate adjustment. I don't have any personal advice re LTC, but other posters definitely do and hopefully will be along soon. Re your query of mat leave, I returned to do a 'long thin' placement that, mixed with A/L meant I did one day a week placement and one teaching for bit, then one day a week placement, one day teaching, one day research for six weeks, two days placement etc for six -eight weeks (can't recall), but that helped me get through returning to work with small children and a partner that worked away. Good luck!
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miriam
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Re: Part-time training

Post by miriam » Sun Aug 23, 2020 11:58 pm

Hopefully they'll be more amenable if you are only asking about your final year and will find a way to arrange things so that you can complete the course. Whilst they are never keen to disrupt the typical patterns or set precedents that might allow other people to delay, you have a disability that they have to make reasonable allowance for, even if this doesn't impede you all of the time. By this stage they will also have invested a lot of time and money in you and will want you to pass. And unlike a maternity leave, you aren't requiring additional pay, just a longer/thinner way to arrange your hours to complete the remaining course requirements.

As to working part-time, I'd apply for both full and part time posts, and say you want part time hours or a job share to those that are full time. I think people often assume that the budget needs to be divided into full time posts, as these are most attractive to candidates, but plenty of part-time opportunities exist. I've employed people half time or 3 days or 4 days a week as well as full-time, as well as having used contractors that work one day a week or a few days a month or all sorts of other arrangements. I don't employ people less than half time though, as the CPD, supervision and management requirements don't really reduce with a part-time post, and therefore end up taking a greater proportion of the paid time.
Miriam

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Dice
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Re: Part-time training

Post by Dice » Tue Aug 25, 2020 11:19 am

Hello,

I went part time for the latter part of my final year due to health reasons that count as a disability, which had been previously declared. My course and placement supervisor were very helpful and accommodating, so I was lucky. After discussion with the course I approached my GP, who wrote a letter supporting my request to reduce my hours, detailing how working full time was impacting on my health at that point in time. This letter allowed the reduction in my hours to begin immediately, whilst the occupational health referral went through, which then supported this reduction in hours as a reasonable adjustment. It was then up to me, the course, and my placement supervisor to work out what this would mean in practice.

I completed the teaching and academic assignments at the usual times, except my thesis for which I had an extension. My placement hours were reduced each week and the placement was extended to allow me to still reach the needed days. During the time of this extension on the placement I was also working on my thesis. I have to say that this caused very little disruption I think, because I completed the majority of the academic year as usual (which can be the hardest bit for the unis to be flexible with). Lots of others had thesis extensions so this wasn't unusual. My placement got to have me for longer, albeit for less days each week, and although towards the end of the placement I overlapped with the new placement trainees by this point I had been in the service for a while and was relatively independent so my supervisor felt OK with continuing to supervise me alongside the new trainees.

The only downside was that my pay was reduced during this time, but fortunately this was manageable for me for this period of time.

I hope that your course work with you to find a solution that works for you. As others have said, it is a legal requirement and not a gesture of goodwill to make reasonable adjustments for those with disabilities.

Dice

hawke
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Re: Part-time training

Post by hawke » Wed Oct 21, 2020 9:31 am

Thanks for all of your replies, they were really helpful in understanding what my options were and how to go about it.

I am in the process of applying to drop to part-time hours. I am hopeful this will be approved, but I am currently managing a return to work on full-time hours, with advice/permission to pace as needed. While this is making it manageable, I am also behind and falling further behind on my research, which is anxiety provoking without the security net of extended deadlines that will come with an official reduction in hours. My experience has been that individual members of staff have been incredibly supportive, but don't always talk to each other. Between uni, research and changing placements, I have 4 different systems to work with, and the burden of this practical and emotional labour falls on me to complete (taking yet further time and energy away from research!)

My advice to my Past Self (or anyone else reading this for advice in future) would be to open up some of these conversations earlier, whether formally with the course or in supervision, or informally with other trainees or mentors. A friend and I reflected on the pressure to be seen to be coping and the comparison of ourselves against trainees without health concerns, and this was very helpful for breaking down some of the barriers to asking for help earlier on.

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