“My child’s health was a powerful driver to change”
In 2007, my son was diagnosed with severe learning and language delays with aspects of ASD (Autistic Spectral Disorder). He was between schools and needed support with transitioning. As parents, we were facing up to 10 appointments / assessments per fortnight - many being double-booked as health departments did not communicate with one another and always assumed (stereo-typically) we did not work. Home life was also really challenging as our lad was exhibiting behavioural problems and difficulties getting to sleep.
How it worked
Back in 2007, parental leave was not available, so I used an opportunity provided by Openreach (Your Time) to revert from full time to three days – Monday to Wednesday inclusive.
I worked three days a week for over two years. It was essential to ensure that any work or issues that could arise during my absence, were professionally covered off. It was necessary at times to ‘hand over’ work and to explain any impacts. With good forward planning, it worked.
In 2010, I was able to return to full time working, starting a new job in a new team (which I really enjoy).
This year (2018), I will be seeking ‘term time working’ to support my son throughout his ten week college summer break.
At times, it was difficult to be seen as a ‘normal’ colleague. As a guy working part time, I did get some challenge on my focus and commitment at work.
The experience made me realise that looking after your family and child’s wellbeing is very important.
My advice to others
Communication with managers and colleagues in the team is key. A business will move forward. What is viable today (for part-time) may not be in the future so you may need to consider new roles as things evolve or opportunities arise or take a pragmatic view on how caring affects you and your job. Sacrifices may be required to ensure the right balance with family life, including grade and financial changes.
A child’s health can be a powerful driver for change. It’s an impact that few people will ever understand and hopefully, most will never experience.
Simon Howlett, BT