Thursday, September 22, 2011

How (not) to have a sick day as a work at home mum

It's hard to have a day off when you're a work at home mum. I was out of sorts this morning. Tired, headachey, blah. I decided I'd call in sick, put my feet up and read a book. Of course.

I got home to my quiet house after school drop-off. I readied myself for a sick day. Coffee at hand. Book at hand. I got onto the sofa. I assumed the correct 'sick day' position.

Nothing doing.

I remembered the three emails I needed to send to follow up interviews for later in the week. I got up. I sent my emails.

I assumed the correct 'sick day' position.

Nothing doing.

I remembered a feature story I'd forgotten to begin. I got up. I went through my contact list. I sent emails requesting interviews later in the week.

I assumed the correct 'sick day' position.

Nothing doing.

I noticed the pile of towels at the end of the sofa, remnants from a frantic folding session the night before. They bothered me. I got up. I put the towels away.

I assumed the correct 'sick day' position.

Nothing doing.

I glanced at the clock. I remembered an interview was scheduled in 10 minutes time (hey, at least I remembered in my pale and wan condition). I got up. I wrote questions. I made a phone call. I made intelligent conversation.

I assumed the correct 'sick day' position.

I won't go on (well, not any more than I already have). You get the picture. I will say this, however. I feel better. And not because of the five minutes an hour I spent in the 'sick day' position. More for the fact that I will get to the end of the day knowing that, while I haven't done much, I've at least done enough to keep things ticking over. That's what it's all about, isn't it? The ticking over.

How do 'sick days' work at your house?

Allison Tait is a freelance writer who blogs at Life In A Pink Fibro about writing, being a work at home mum to two boys, and… whimsy. She was thrilled to work with Kate Sykes on their new book: 'Career Mums: A practical guide to returning to work' due out January 2012!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Case study: Negotiating a pay rise while on parental leave

Recently, a CareerMums user asked about requesting a pay rise while on maternity leave. It was the second time she had been on maternity leave around the end of financial year when her work awards pay rises. She mentioned that she had not received a pay rise in quite a while and if she missed out again, she would be earning considerably less than her peers.

Our view on the issue is the following: Pay rises in general come with performance appraisals. If you have every intention of returning, your pay rate should account for the hard work you have carried out before going on parental leave. Ask to view their performance appraisal guidelines first so you have the facts. Then ask. If you don’t ask, you won’t know – or in some cases, you won’t get it.

We recently received feedback from this woman on how she then handled the situation:

"I just wanted to update you on my progress with asking for a pay rise while on maternity leave. I checked the policy and then organised a phone call with my boss. I indicated to him that I would like a pay review based on my (very good) performance review conducted at the end of last year before I went on leave. I was advised that this would be taken into consideration and I would be advised of the outcome. Yesterday I was advised that I would be awarded a 4% rise (slightly over CPI for the year I think) which I am quite happy with - though I think if I had been still working and had a full year's performance review to help make my case it would have been better - but it's definitely better than nothing! Thanks for your advice regarding this - it gave me the confidence to ask!"

Reviewing your job description

How long since you or your manager has reviewed your job description? It is an interesting exercise that could produce the following results:

- Fine tuning exactly what your tasks and duties are. You may feel less overwhelmed and more focused on the outcomes. All of this has a impact on work life balance as it can help you to feel more organised about your work load.
- You may find an opportunity to build a case to work flexibly. For example, some components of your work may be done outside of work hours, or from home. Or there may be an opportunity to job share your role, or make it part time.