I am a permanent federal employee who is planning on having kids in the near future. I am currently a full-time employee, but would like the option to come back as a part-time employee for a while after my maternity leave. Do you know if the federal government allows part-time work, or are my only options to work full-time or be a stay at home mom?
You'll be happy to know that the federal government has long recognized the value of part-time employment. Some even argue that all feds are part-timers, claiming the average time spent working each week vs chatting by the water cooler or surfing sarcastic government news sites is probably closer to 30 hours a week. But I digress...
Legislation encouraging part-time employment for federal employees has been in place since 1978. Therefore, the simple answer to your question is: part-time employment is an option.
That's the textbook answer, but the real-life answer depends on how progressive your organization is and whether they truly adhere to the Office of Personnel Management regulations that require agencies to provide options outside of full-time career employment. But if your boss is old school and believes in the god ole days of punching the clock... well, your road for such an arrangement may be rocky and long.
From a broad perspective, the federal government understands changing life-cycle needs and provided opportunities such as part-time work and job sharing to create career flexibility and a diverse workforce of good people. Progressive organizations and managers (who are few and far between, it seems) realize the benefits by retaining the talents of experienced people and enhancing their loyalty, in addition to being more attractive to potential employees.
For employees like you who have child care and/or elder care responsibilities, job sharing and other part-time arrangements can be very attractive alternatives. They enable employees to continue their engagement with work, contribute to the family income, and progress in their careers.
Part-time employees under permanent appointments are eligible, on a prorated basis, for the same benefits as full-time employees: leave, retirement, and health and life insurance coverage. That means that if you are allowed to reduce your hours to 20 per week, Uncle Sam will pay half of what the government would normally pay for benefits and you will have to make up the difference.
If you have to convince your employer of the benefits of allowing part time work, some of these points might help you make your case.
Part-time work can:
- attract or retain highly qualified employees or those with special skills who may not be able to or may not want to work a full-time schedule;
- prevent you from getting sick of someone's face;
- serve as a performance incentive;
- increase employee effectiveness (since they wont need to kill those extra 10 hours a week with chatter);
- provide work coverage during recurring workload surges;
- reduce employment expenditures when employees voluntarily reduce their work schedules; and
- support agency affirmative action goals.
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