I’m working a flexible schedule for a 10% cut in pay but producing 100% of what I used to

A reader writes:

I have a question regarding flexible schedules and salaries. To give some background, I’ve been with my employer for a little over two years as a mid-level manager. I love my job and have been told that I do a great job and am valued. The company is a bit old fashioned, is big on “face time,” and does not offer much flexibility in terms of working remotely or creating special arrangements.

In the spring, I had a baby, and prior to that had asked my manager (a corporate VP) for more flexible working arrangements – namely, I was hoping to take one day off every two weeks and “make up” the time, mostly in the office (by skipping lunch, coming in early, or due to work-related travel). They were very kind but declined this scenario, instead offering me a “90%” schedule where I would have every other Friday off at 90% pay. There are a few other people in the office who also have this schedule and it seems to be working well for all of us.

I understand their discomfort with the ambiguity around making up the work hours and was appreciative of this new schedule. However, now that I’ve been working under this schedule for about seven months, I am starting to resent the decrease in salary. My work has in NO way decreased, and in fact, I feel that I am being entrusted with more responsibility than ever. My work is project-based, so things need to get done by deadlines regardless of when I am in the office. Although I do not work on the days I am off, I always check email and respond to questions. I make a point to be “extra” efficient when I am in the office, often skipping lunch or water cooler talk to get all of my work accomplished before my day off.

One other point is that I felt my salary was a bit low to begin with, but I overlooked it due to love of my job and team. Now, 10% feels like a big cut. I just generally don’t feel properly compensated for my contributions.

We are coming up on the annual review period in my office, and I am sure I’ll have a positive review. Given that, I’m not sure how to handle my concerns around salary. Ask for a raise? Ask for my old salary, and consider it an annual raise? Ask to “meet in the middle”?

I don’t want to rock the boat because I really do love both my job and schedule………but I want to feel fairly compensated and recognized, as well. Can you help guide me on how to handle this situation? Am I right to bring it up, or should I just let things lie and be happy with my more flexible schedule?

It’s absolutely reasonable to bring up. You’re being compensated at 90%, but producing 100% of the work you used to. That’s not how this was intended to work.

Or … maybe it was. It’s possible that your company sees this as a fair trade for letting you be off one day every two weeks — similar to negotiating extra vacation time, where you’d get more days off but usually wouldn’t get an accompanying reduction in workload. In a way, what you negotiated is extra vacation time — just staggered on a regular schedule. In their eyes, it’s possible that you agreed to work fewer hours for less pay, but that a different workload was never agreed upon.

And yes, this might sound crazy — after all, if you’re working 10% less, shouldn’t everyone expect that you’ll produce 10% less? But actually, it doesn’t always work that way. There’s even a school of thought that people can produce just as much in a four-day work week because they’re more focused and efficient. Your company might have been looking at it like that. (I’m pretty sure I don’t agree with that, but there are indeed intelligent people who do.)

But regardless, you’re not happy with the current arrangement and so it’s worth bringing up. I’d present it pretty much as you have here: “I’ve found that despite working 90% of the time, my workload — and productivity — has stayed where it was before my schedule change. I’d like to talk about adjusting my salary to reflect the fact that I’m producing at the same level as before we cut my salary.”

See what they say. You note that they’re old-fashioned, so they might just not be open to paying you the same as someone who’s there every day, regardless of the results you’re getting. But it sounds like you’re due for a raise soon anyway, so this is a totally reasonable thing to roll into that conversation.

{ 99 comments… read them below }

  1. Lily in NYC

    Also, you have to remember that even though you are being productive, you are still causing a minor disruption with that schedule – for example, when scheduling meetings for my ridiculously busy boss, it’s frustrating when there’s one part-timer on our staff whose time off I have to work around. But now that I think about it, those people are out twice a week. One day every two weeks doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

  2. Anonie

    This has the potential to backfire because an employer can see it as having an employee who can do 5 days of work in 4 days which could lead them to believe that you could/should be doing more work if you were there 5 days. You really need to be prepared when you have this discussion because they could decide if you want 100% pay that you need to work 100% of the time.

  3. Sharon

    Also:

    “Although I do not work on the days I am off, I always check email and respond to questions.”

    You ARE working on your days off! Email and being responsive is working.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      As a society, we need another term for this! She’s not working a full day, but she’s not able to totally disconnect either. It counts, but not fully. She’s off/but not really off. What can we call it?

      1. David

        My wife, an RN, calls it On-Call. Frankly, seems like we already have a name for it, but it’s just been reserved for some specific fields! Why not for everyone?

        1. LBK

          I think of “on call” as being more like you could be asked to come in and do your normal level of work, but you may not be needed so it’s just in case they call you in. That’s not quite the same as checking your email a few times a day and just handling anything urgent – you won’t be expected to work to full capacity at any point throughout the day.

          1. FlowerGirl

            I call it being “on” with my husband. I agree, the term “on-call” implies the ability/requirement of possibly going in. So we say “will you be off for this long weekend, or will you be on on Monday?”

            1. Chinook

              To me, “on-call” implies more restrictions than being accessable. When DH is on-call, he must be able to get to the office, uniform, within a certain time frame. This means no travelling out of town, no alcohol and always having his phone available to answer ASAP. He does this every so often. But, he is also “on” (as the local media contact) 24-7 which means he monitors his phone and takes calls but it isn’t expected for him to have to run to the office right now, which means he can be out of town and have a beer.

              These two things should be compensated differently (and they are in his case)

      2. Wonderlander

        I prefer the term “stand by” for this. As in, “I’m off on Friday, but I’m on stand by for any important emails or phone calls that might come in.”

      3. LBK

        How about calling it a “response only” day or a “reactive” day? As in, I will only be reacting to things that require response today, but I will not be proactively working on ongoing tasks/projects.

      4. Student

        I call this plague of work creep a “smart phone”. I thought that was the generally recognized term for it.

        1. Chinook

          Depends on the job. The advent of the smart phone has meant those who have jobs that can be dealt with remotely can actually leave the office (and town) more often. I have a cousin who has been known to program the television network thingy for the large television provider he works for while out camping or at a family dinner (since the 90’s, we have been bugging him about the computers call him when they’re lonely). Without a smartphone, he would have had to work either from home or the downtown office instead of in front of a campfire.

      5. HR Diva

        I was interviewing for a regional position with a retail company and the interviewer proudly told me that his managers only worked 5 1/2 days a week. I told him that there was no such thing – that that was working 6 days a week. We agreed I wasn’t going to be a good fit.

        1. Mister Pickle™

          My (probably imperfect) understanding is that up until recently, this was the norm in Israel, where a typical work week was Sunday to Thursday plus a half-day Friday.

          I welcome anyone who can provide more information or correct me if I got it wrong.

          1. AnonS

            Yup! Still is the case here in Jerusalem.

            The big difference is that work and school days are shorter too. My kids are in school 8 am yo 1:30 pm six days a week.

            1. Leah

              I think that’s common, but many people do have Friday off. When I lived there as a student, our week was Sunday-Thursday.

      6. WorkingMom

        In my office we simply call it “being connected.”

        For example – I have had discussions with my boss about working from home with sick kids. Assuming the work is getting done – my boss has no issue with “being connected” while you’re home with sick kids. She realizes you’re not sitting at your desk being 100% focused on work from 8am-5pm straight, but as long as we’re being responsive, checking email/responding, handling any urgent issues that might arise, she’s fine with that.
        (Of course let’s also assume this happens once in a while, not every week.) Not the same scenario we’re discussing, but just sharing our workplace definition of “being connected/responsive” when you’re on PTO, or otherwise “out.”

      7. Eliza Jane

        I’ve seen a word for this! It’s like… contaminated time? Or something like that. Time when you’re not being paid, but the shadow of work and the possibility of needing to work is still hanging over you.

      8. Anonsie

        We somewhat cryptically just call this “available” where I work. You tell people you’re out during x time but will be “available” (on just “on email”), and then people expect they can call or email you and get a response only slightly more delayed than if you were at work. This includes requests for things that require you to remotely log in and do some actual work.

      9. Jamie

        Yes! We need a name for this! I am so tired of my family saying I’m working all the time, because I do always need to be available to respond. But answering a couple of emails from my couch is not the same as working…but it’s also not the same as being able to take a nap without my phone on the dock. Or being able to ignore messages because I’m “off.”

        And I see on-call has been noted – that’s different. I’m always on-call, but that means if something poops the bed I need to head in (either in person or remotely) and swing into work mode. So that’s a thing – but it’s not this thing where you can’t ignore your email/phone while watching a marathon of Top Chef, but you don’t need to stop watching Top Chef to deal with said email/call.

        What I usually call it is, “Geeze, what do they need now, don’t they know I have TV to watch?” but that’s not so catchy.

    2. Jess

      My last (terrible) boss had this attitude toward sick days. If you used a sick day, it was really a work from home day. When we were out sick we were still expected to work all day on laptops from bed or the hospital, call in to any meetings we had, etc. I was once in the hospital all day sick to my stomach and hooked up to monitors to make sure I didn’t lose my baby and she was enraged I didn’t dial into our weekly staff meeting or answer emails or run my standard Tuesday reports: “A sick day just means you don’t have to come into the office, not that you can shirk your job!”

      She didn’t last long.

  4. David

    Just to clarify…

    “Although I do not work on the days I am off, I always check email and respond to questions.”

    Then you’re still working. It may not be as much work, or necessarily the same type of work, you might do if you’re in the office, but you’re still working.

    Heck, I know some people who have made an entire career out of checking mail and answering questions.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Right, but unless she’s putting in hours doing it, it’s not quite the same. It could be 10 minutes of email. Which doesn’t mean it’s not significant — I think it absolutely is, if for no other reason than that’s she’s not able to fully disconnect, which brings huge psychic benefits — but it’s worth factoring that in as she thinks about how to approach her manager about it.

      1. PEBCAK

        It’s not clear whether that is expected/necessary, though. It may be that she’s not disconnecting all the way when she could without upsetting her management.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Yes! This would be a great thing to clarify.

          I actually recently had something similar with a client, where I realized I was working for them way more frequently than intended. It was totally being caused by me, though, and what I needed to do was change my own behavior — and also go back and reset expectations with them, because at that point I’d been doing it long enough that people assumed it was how it was supposed to be. That might not be at all the case here, but it’s definitely worth exploring.

          1. Original Poster

            Great points so far! I can clarify some things to help. I am only accessible on my terms on my day off. There has never been any sort of direct instruction to answer email, calls, or texts. However, as I mentioned, all of our work is project based, so I am very conscious of not being a bottle neck. If my answer to a question is holding things up, I make a point to address that….but I do it in my own time and as I have availability. To a previous poster’s point, I don’t want my days out to be disruptive to the rest of the team (though they really shouldn’t be, given it’s just 2 days a month). Also, my employer made it pretty clear that they would only be in favor of this arrangement as long as work never suffered and things never got behind. So in order to make sure of that, unfortunately, I need to be somewhat attentive to things going on in the office even when I’m not there. Hope that helps to clarify!

            1. misspiggy

              So it does sound as if your employer expected 100% workload from the new arrangement. In which case, why would a 10% pay cut be appropriate? Maybe you could be clear with them that meeting their condition of no work disruption requires you to work on your day off.

            2. another-part-timer

              I was taking Fridays off as a part time worker, and as my kids got older and I planned things on Fridays (ie park outing, etc…). It became much harder for me to feel like I was getting those days off when I had to spend an hour answering emails and coordinating things before we could leave the house (with kids tapping their feet and rightly getting frustrated with me). Even worse having a playdate, and having to tell the other mom, sorry I need to take this phone call or answer this email?!
              I finally gave in and started working on Fridays again (and ironically so many client now take Fridays as half days or days off, that it is my quietest and most productive day).

  5. MaryMary

    I worked at an organization that had a demanding, high performance culture. Most of our work was project based and client-facing, so it was expected that we were very responsive. OldJob was supportive of alternative arrangements: working remotely, part time, etc. However, everyone I knew who moved to an exempt part time schedule ended up working what would be considered full time hours (or more!) at any other company, at least some of the time. In a way, if everyone is working 60 hours and you’re working 45, it’s the same as if everyone is working 40 hours and you work 30. On the other hand, you’re still working 45 hours a week and getting paid to work part time.

    For my coworkers who moved part time, the decision came down to if they were willing to work those kind of hours for that salary (which, honestly, was a decision the full time employees had to make too). Otherwise, they could try to move to a part time position that was non-exempt (we had a few, especially if the individual wanted to work one or two days a week, or partial days), or leave the company.

  6. Student

    You should also keep all your options on (your) table. You like your current job and your hours, but not your pay.

    You can look for another job where you get all three things you want.

    You can argue with your current company to try to get all three things you want from them.

    If the current employer won’t give you all three, then what are your priorities going to be? Make sure you have a clear idea of what, specifically, you want to get out of this before you enter negotiations. They might be willing to do trade-off between salary and hours (more pay, but 100% work time), and a shift in that trade-off might (or might not) be appropriate to your evolving situation with the baby. They might be willing to change your job to something with flexible hours and better pay, but it might not be the same kind of work you enjoy. They might be willing to reduce your job responsibilities to reflect your decrease in hours.

  7. Lisa

    OP – Are you spending those 8 hours during the course of those 2 weeks (at night and on weekends), but not necessary doing much on your friday off? Getting more work is different than taking those 8 hours and still working them over the course of those 2 weeks. If you have just switched when the hours are worked, you can say that to your bosses.

    1. AndersonDarling

      I was wondering if the value of 2 Fridays off a month was worth it to the OP. A four day workweek makes a difference, but I’m not sure 2 days off a month is. I could use vacation time to take 2 days off a month for a while. (Although, the OP came back from maternity leave and may not have vacation.)
      A 10% cut in salary doesn’t seem to equal the benefit of 2 days off.

      1. Original Poster

        Some months I do feel like I am just switching the hours I worked. Some months I don’t. It really depends on workload and my personal plans. There are certainly Fridays where I don’t respond to anything and have very little extra time in the office needed to get work done.

        The 2 Fridays are definitely worth it to me. I didn’t state it in the letter, but our company also has a very limited vacation policy. I only get 2 weeks a year as it is, and am pretty much out after maternity leave. On my Fridays off, we often take long weekends as a family (more often than not) because my husband’s work is extremely flexible. Sometimes I also still take my daughter to daycare so that I can run errands or do personal things. Mostly though it’s extra time with my daughter and for the three of us as a family. These days are very valuable to me, which is why I’m questioning what to do. I don’t want to get into a situation where they say, “well if it’s not working, we’ll go back to the regular schedule.” I could never have this amount of time off leveraging just our vacation day policy.

        1. AndersonDarling

          OK, I’m glad the days off are really valuable. I was envisioning situations where your Fridays off got hijacked by unexpected situations like sick kids, or boring errands. Then you would say, “Gee wiz, why do I bother taking these days off?”
          I’m glad you are using those days to the fullest!

        2. KJR

          I don’t have a whole lot to add here, but wanted to throw in that I took every Friday off for 15 years when my kids were young, for 20% less pay. I pretty much did the same thing you mentioned above — answered e-mails/calls that would result in something not getting done in a timely manner. To be fair though, it might have amounted to 15-30 minute max, I was definitely not working on Fridays (well, I was working, just not on office stuff!) It was completely worth it for me.

  8. businesslady

    I’m in a similar situation, where I took a pay/hours cut in exchange for more schedule flexibility wherein I work primarily from home. there was some corresponding adjustment to my workload, but I’m essentially doing most of the same work I was doing as a full-time employee.

    here’s one thing that’s helped me adjust–& feel happy about–this new reality: unless there’s something truly time-sensitive, I don’t respond to email when I’m not working. I also track my hours in order to ensure I’m not cutting into the free time I negotiated for myself. & if I feel reasonably confident that no emergencies will arise, I don’t check/think about work email at all for long stretches of time.

    part of the issue here, it seems to me–although maybe I’m just projecting from my own experience–is that your desire to demonstrate your work ethic is preventing you from fully taking advantage of the flex time. it sounds like it’s been long enough that no one questions whether the arrangement is working, so (assuming some of these other tactics don’t work out), try explaining to your boss/colleagues that you’re trying to disconnect more on your off time, & then follow through on it. if it becomes a problem, they’ll surely let you know, & then you can explore other solutions. but chances are, everyone will deal with your lack of immediate reachability from time to time, & you’ll start to feel less overwhelmed by your situation.

    1. Original Poster

      “your desire to demonstrate your work ethic is preventing you from fully taking advantage of the flex time”

      This.

  9. Turanga Leela

    OP, every professional woman I know who has negotiated a part-time role has had this happen. (Half-time might different, but 75% and up don’t seem to come with a reduction in workload.) You get all the work, less pay, and sometimes other drawbacks as well—for instance, in some law firms, part-time associates aren’t considered partner-track.

    Definitely bring the situation up with your employer, but if the employer remains inflexible, it might make more sense just to go back to officially 100% time and take PTO when you need to do something during the day. I’m so sorry there aren’t better options for working parents.

    1. Ella

      I agree. I remember a Dilbert comic where Alice negotiated herself a flexible schedule with reduced pay, but promised to produce the same amount. Dilbert’s comment was something like I see you’ve negotiated yourself a pay cut…

      1. Mister Pickle™

        I remember this Dilbert.

        I know it’s not much help to OP, but maybe to future generations: I don’t think you want to get on this ride in the first place. Let’s do the math: if “on-call” equates to 30 minutes, and she works through a 30 minute lunch on regular work days, that’s 30 + (9 * 30) minutes = 5 hours of work every two weeks.

        In theory, she’s working 36 hours/week.

        In practice, she’s working 38.5 hours/week. Which would equate to a 3.75% salary decrease.

        I’ve seen this kind of ‘deal’ before, and I’ve never heard of mgmt actually pulling out a schedule and extending a deadline because someone is working reduced hours.

        I’ve sometimes pondered that it might be more honest if employees could pay a fixed sum for a day off. The money could work out the same, but the psychology surrounding it is totally different.

        1. Cat

          On the other hand, are the full time people in those same offices also working over 40 hours a week? If her full time coworkers are working 45 hours a week, for instance, she’s still coming out ahead. And that’s office-dependent, I think.

    2. MaryMary

      To be fair, I know mid-career men who’ve tried to move part time and ended up in the same position as OP. Aside from moving to an hourly, non-exempt position, the only other situation I can think of where part time really is part time is semi-retirement. We have a couple VP-level folks who aren’t fully retired but who only come in a couple days a week, or come in at 10 and leave by 3 (the semi-retirees are all men).

      1. Turanga Leela

        Yes, I should clarify what I wrote. I don’t mean that this is discrimination against women. It’s just that everyone I know who has done this has been a woman (and a mother, come to think of it).

    3. Zenika

      I think this is totally a women’s issue, and specifically damaging to working mothers. I wasn’t exactly is the same situation. In my case, the request for flex time came with a move out-of-state. For two years, I worked at 80% pay, theoretically for four days a week. But in reality, I work so much more, and so much harder. After two years of this, I talked with my supervisor, and went back up to full-time pay, but with extended hours.

      What bothered me was that my work ethic prevented me from slacking off, but I knew plenty of people who were getting paid for a full 40 hour work week who were doing absolutely nothing. Those same people were calling in sick with mysterious illnesses, coming in late, leaving early, etc. Somehow, in our society, if you have to take a day off to care for an ill child, I think there is still a lot of negativity associated with that. I’ve worked really hard in the last five years to change the culture at my place of work to accept flexible schedules. We’ve come along way, but we’re not there yet. Recently I asked for some additional flexibility, and it was suggested that I take some sort of family leave to accommodate my request. This was not because I was asking for anything outrageous, but rather because they were afraid of precedent. There was some sexism sprinkled in there as well.

      I have heard that a lot over the last few years. “If we let you do it, we have to let everybody do it.”

      No, you don’t. Not everyone has earned the privilege.

      I guess it depends on the original poster’s work culture. It sounds like it is very traditional. But if the job is secure, then I wonder what it would take to slowly change the way they view things.

      1. Original Poster

        Agree with this comment 100%. It does bother me that when I worked 5 days, I spent a lot more time chatting with co-workers, taking long lunches, doing personal banking or things of that nature. I was in my seat more, but probably spent the same amount of hours working, and therefore am producing the same. Most of my co-workers fall squarely into this camp, and many I know waste much more time. They also are concerned about a precedent, but I agree, I have earned the privilege. My boss feels totally confident that I can accomplish all work and goals in the time needed, so that is between the two of us. If management doesn’t feel others are able/equipped to do so, then it should be a case by case scenario, in my opinion.

        I know it is a “people” issue in general, but it often feels like a parent-specific issue, and mostly a mother’s issue, unfortunately.

      2. Globetrotter

        This is not a womens issue. Quite frankly be happy about the time off you are being given. If I wanted to take the time off to do charity work or take care of a sick friend I would not get it. We need to start thinking about people not just working mothers. Everyone work and everyone wants time off for different reasons.

  10. chump with a degree

    At my employer, we can choose to work an extra hour 8 days, then a straight 8 hour day, then get a day off. And yes, we have the same workload, and get the salary. It’s pretty wonderful.

    1. The IT Manager

      The government calls this a compressed work schedule. Some people love it. Some people end up logging in for at least a few hours on their CWS day-off because they are are just too busy.

      I have not taken advantage of it yet because that extra hour (when I commute into the office) makes for a day that just seems too long. I’m thining if I every go full time telework where I have 0 minute commute, that I might give this a try to free up one day every two weeks.

      1. chump with a degree

        I felt the same way and it turned out I like the longer work day as I ma more productive.

  11. Aceso Under Glass

    If you’re genuinely producing more and taking on more responsibility, can you argue for a raise on that front, rather than comparing to what you got when you worked full time?

    1. Original Poster

      Yes, I have been thinking about that and believe my boss will agree with this stance. Where that puts me relative to where I was, I’m not sure. I know a merit raise isn’t going to net me back that 10%, but maybe we can compromise somewhere.

    2. The IT Manager

      I agree. That was my thoughts. Forget/don’t mention the pay cut when your hours dropped and just make the case that you deserve a pay raise because of increased output.

      I would also say that it may help you feel less taken advantage if you think about it like someone else mentioned that you now get 25 extra vacation days a year. Yes, you remain connected those days, but being able to be free from the office to run errands, spend time with your child, take a long weekend is a huge perk.

  12. Original Poster

    Thanks everyone for the responses!

    To further clarify, the issue isn’t really any extra time, or being responsive on Fridays. It’s really pay vs. performance, in my eyes.

    At most on one of those Fridays I will spend a half hour on work items. And the extra time, to me, is part of getting projects done. Essentially, I feel pressure to get the same amount of work done as I did when I was totally full time….and to do that, I feel the need to give a little extra most days. So I guess I need to decide if I can tolerate that or not. But what I am starting to feel concerns over, is the fact that my employer is really getting EXACTLY the same thing as when I was full time. I am producing the same amount.

    To Alison’s point, maybe that is the price I have to pay for these extra days since they really see it as an additional benefit. If that is their line of thinking, I just have to deal with that I guess (being that I don’t want to find a different job).

    I don’t expect them to just reinstate my old salary. But I guess I feel like if my value to the company last year was $X, and for that I was paid $Y, and this year I’m still adding that exact value, shouldn’t my comp be closer to $Y? Maybe not exactly $Y, but closer to it, taking into account the flexibility?

    1. Cat

      I do want to raise the possibility that there’s invisible stuff you’re not seeing on those Fridays. I know it’s not true in every job, but in mine, there’s stuff that isn’t anyone’s “core” job but does have to get done by people who happen to be in the office — one-off responses to client requests, or quick phone calls, for instance. If your job does have that stuff, that’s one reason even working really hard on the other days isn’t the same thing.

    2. The IT Manager

      Okay, I just said it above, but I want to nest my comment here now.

      Maybe it can help you adjust your perspective if you think how you now get 25 extra vacation days a year – put a monitary value on that. Yes, you remain connected those days and work about 30 minutes, but being able to be free from the office to schedule appointments, spend time with your child, take a long weekend is a huge perk when you used to spend all your Fridays in the office.

      You used to produce the same, get paid more, but you didn’t have those days off. Are those 25 days off worth the 10% pay cut?

    3. Lisa

      Are you allowed a raise for this new schedule? My old boss would take raises off the table for all contract / PT / reduced hour workers. Essentially stopping any salary increases as long as they fall into this category. A jerk move yes, but if you were anything less than 40 (but really 60) hours – you were agreeing to never be given a raise as long as that schedule was maintained. Some people were going 4 years without an increase even for COL.

  13. John

    Unfortunately, part-time arrangements for traditionally full-time jobs seem to present an outsize benefit to employers.

    I’ve known new moms who move to 3- or 4-day schedules and pulled pretty much a full load (minus being present for the occasional meeting).

    My partner moved to half time and found himself working five-sixths of his old schedule (but decided that small reduction made it worthwhile).

    1. B

      My sister (in mainland Europe) asked if she could go part time when she went back after maternity leave. They said yes but you’ll still have the same workload.

      She went back full time :(

  14. Original Poster

    Also, it’s not like I make a ton of money, so we are essentially talking about 5 or 6K here. Part of my dilemma is whether that amount is worth uncomfortable conversations or a potentially negative view of my arrangement. I don’t want to be putting myself in a difficult situation just to get back $3,000, if that makes sense.

    1. Mister Pickle™

      If you’ll pardon my curiousity:

      – How many hours a week do you actually put in? You mentioned working over lunchtime, which could be 2.5 (or even 5) hours a week?

      – You mentioned that other people at the office have arrangements like this. Have you talked to any of them? I don’t mean to encourage a rebellion or anything like that. Just: maybe they might have some interesting thoughts on this topic?

      1. Original Poster

        I pretty much work 32 – 35 hours each week. I would normally take an hour lunch, and I skip that and eat at my desk about 2 days per week. Then I check email each night and make sure to respond to anything pressing – a few minutes max.

        There are a few others who do this, and we have spoken. I don’t believe any of them feel the way that I do. I think, given the nature of our company, they are very grateful for having any flexibility and just deal with being stressed about getting their projects done.

        1. Jamie

          I think it’s pretty generous that they are counting the skipping lunch thing. I think they should, but a lot of companies wouldn’t because it’s the norm to skip or eat at your desk while working, so it’s not like they are getting additional benefit from it.

          1. Original Poster

            It’s not really a matter of them counting the skipping lunch thing. I don’t think they know or care that I do that. That comment was really just to point out that I put in extra time to make sure I get the same amount of work done, not really in reference to the hours per week. I used to always make sure to take an hour lunch unless I was exceptionally busy, so it’s just an example of being more efficient, allowing the same output.

  15. soitgoes

    I think stuff like this goes both ways – we’ve seen people write in stating that they think they should be paid for a 40-hour workweek, even if it means sitting in the office and doing nothing sometimes. No one wants to be nickled and dimed to the extent that they’re only paid for the time spent working. For a lot of people, working is tied to being in the office. She’s not even talking about working remotely – she has every other Friday off from work entirely. If it’s valuable for the OP to not be in the office on those days, I can’t see her employer agreeing to pay her as if she had been there.

  16. HR Manager

    When I supported employees in Amsterdam, employees had the right to ask an employer for a 4 day a work week arrangement, if they could demonstrate they got the same job done in a 4 day work week. But, this would also mean being paid at 80%. I think that’s a fair trade off.

    1. Anonsie

      This concept is kind of batty to me. How is the company not getting 20% of what they need if the employee’s production is exactly the same? Take a 20% pay cut to have less time to do the same amount of stuff, higher stress, less wiggle room?

      I could see it if part of the job is lost when you’re not in the office (so it’s not truly the exact same work coverage) but if it’s an outcomes-based role it doesn’t make sense to me.

      1. AB Normal

        “This concept is kind of batty to me. How is the company not getting 20% of what they need if the employee’s production is exactly the same? ”

        At least in my job, even if I can do 100% of my work in 4 days, being there the 5th day means my colleagues can complete their work faster. If they have a question, they can ask me right there, face-to-face. If someone needs me to review a printed document, they can just show it to me in person, rather than having to scan, send me via email, and wait until I reply (which might be only the next Monday because I’m not there Friday).

        Unless your work is repetitive and isolated, working 4 days instead of 5 definitely impact the overall office productivity (even if *you* are able to finish your entire work in that time). Also note that if your work depend on others, in those 4 days, to finish everything you need to do, you’ll be interrupting more times your colleagues, so you are more productive in these 4 days but they lose productivity too.

        I actually think it’s fair for an employer to provide choices: either work 5 days at 100% of the salary, or opt for a smaller number of days but with salary reduction.

      2. HR Manager

        And yet, many Dutch employees love this and ask for this. I think it’s a cultural expectation. They enjoy a challenging job and also enjoy a better balance of work and life with a guaranteed 3 day week end to recharge. This was the big reason (not because everyone felt they were rich enough to be paid 80%) — but because they valued the better work-life balance it offered. I think much of the US still has a perception problem that if you’re not working 5 days a week, somehow you’re not working hard enough or not “professional” enough.

  17. Joey

    Are you exempt or non? To me if you’re exempt your pay shouldn’t change or they’re compromising your exempt status. And if you’re non, I don’t see a big deal since you’re paid by the hour-at that point you’ve just become more efficient.

    1. Cat

      Wait, but choosing not to work one day of the week is way more flexibility than I’ve ever heard of someone getting in a normal exempt job.

      1. Mike C.

        By the letter and good faith intent of the laws surrounding exempt work, you are paid for the job, not the time spent sitting around. Thus, if you got all of your work done in four days instead of five, you should be allowed to go home since you’re a “professional” and your job is finished.

        Of course, in the real world that would never happen because your job would just dynamically expand to fill 40 hours, and most likely more so that your employer can get some work for free as well.

        1. Cat

          Be that as it may, I don’t think that’s the terms of most exempt jobs and, in this case, it sounds like all of the OP’s coworkers are expected to work 5 days a week. The flexibility on the extra day is a bonus; maybe the salary cut shouldn’t be 10% but it’s not the same job as other people are doing because actually having to be in the office sucks.

          1. Jamie

            That’s what I was thinking. If the position is such that it doesn’t make a difference whether they are in the office or not that’s one thing – but those aren’t all that common. Even if it’s the same amount of work, it’s still a benefit to not have to be there and instantly available to be pulled into meetings, cover the phones if the receptionist is away, answer a fast question.

            Probably 80% of my job itself could be done from home if I wanted that – but I know I have end users who need things and get them because they can stop by my office and talk to me in a way they wouldn’t do in email. Both for IT things and for things I need to know but they won’t put in email. The task list would get done but there would be an intangible something missing that wouldn’t.

  18. CW

    It sounds like there could be some legal issues to this, especially if it’s mostly or all women getting their pay cut. In many cases, salaried employees have to be paid if they work some fraction of time out of a week. A court may view her “agreement” to take a pay cut as unenforecable.

  19. Vera

    Just a question out of curiosity here…if you do get a raise as a result of your review, is your raise based on your 100% salary or 90% salary? If you made 100K and now you make 90K and you get a 10% raise are you getting 9K extra or 10K extra? Just more fodder for your discussion of any possible pay increase.

    1. Original Poster

      I am not sure, that is certainly something I’ve been wondering as I think through this. My hope is any raise will be based on my former salary, but I have a feeling that wouldn’t be the case.

  20. Denise

    I think that from the employer’s perspective, they have a certain amount of work that must be done and hired a certain number of people in different roles to do it. Especially with exempt work that can’t easily be assigned to someone else, granting a 10% reduction in workload would leave 10% of the work left over and undone. Then who would do the work? They can’t hire someone else to make up 10% of the op’s work. That’s what I would be mindful of in approaching one’s employer. If they hired op to fill a certain role, then they consider op responsible for the duties falling under that role’s area of responsibility. The extra days off are essentially an additional perk (or vacation days, as Allison said) that the employer negotiated by asking the op to offer up 10% of her salary.

    It seems one thing to do would be to really allow that Friday off to be an off day and disengage. If the employer expects engagement on that day off, that might be an issue to raise.

  21. Original Poster

    But that’s just my point – there is not 10% of the work left undone or left over. 100% of the work is getting done, just as my role requires. Since it can’t be assigned to someone else, it’s just up to me, and I manage it accordingly. No one needs to pick up 10% – it’s done.

  22. RoseTyler

    OP – if you’re spending 30 minutes each Friday connecting in an effort to avoid bottlenecking, do you have a coworker that you trust to contact you directly ONLY if your response on something is truly needed? That way you would not have to monitor email or check in with those in the office.

  23. SanityAssassin

    Are you prepared if your manager has a different opinion and feels that your productivity has proportionately decreased?

    Also, your Director has to look to work/life balance of your colleagues. On my contract, a Senior personage has to be onsite at all times in case the client has a concern, there’s an emergency, someone wants a last-minute meeting, or they just in general lose their crap. My Director has an arrangement similar to yours and is off on Fridays; one peer teleworks; the two remaining possibilities both flex-work and leave early on Fridays. So guess who has to man the fort? Every. Single. Friday. Not because my own clients need me (Mon-Wed are my crazy time), but because I need to represent the company as a whole.

  24. Bikirl

    For two days a month, I feel the employer should have allowed you a flexible work schedule. You’ve proven you can do your job in a compressed schedule, and I hope you can convince your manager to restore your full salary. This company does not offer enough vacation time, nor flexibility. They’re basically charging you for it. That’s how it looks to me anyway.

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