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I am employed as a software developer with a software company in India. I have 5 years work experience.

I have a baby whom I leave at a daycare for 6 hours. I would like to get back home 2 hours earlier to be able to give him my attention. So, right now the total work hours I work for the company is 9 hours a day. I would like to adjust my schedule to 7 hours per day.

Actually, the current company I am working with is a small company with which I have already 5 years and am still continuing. The HR people here have told me that they have the policy to reduce the salary as per the number of hours per week. But obviously I can't stay with this company throughout my life so was wondering whether I can expect other companies (where I would be a new joinee) to agree to my request to allow me to work two hours less per day at the cost of reducing my monthly salary accordingly?

If the answer is not yes, is there anything I can do to show that my case deserves this consideration?

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    Related: workplace.stackexchange.com/q/11376/325 – Monica Cellio May 21 '13 at 15:01
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    In my part of the world (Sweden) all employees have legal right to work part time (12.5% - 75%, whatever is suitable for the employee) when they have kids < 8yrs at home. Guess you don't have such laws. – Petter Nordlander May 21 '13 at 22:07
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    @Petter wish the rest of the world worked as well as Sweden.. – Michael Grubey May 22 '13 at 11:20
  • Just wanted to give a heads up that there are large differences between countries as I noticed there are a lot of focus on other countries in the answers. – Petter Nordlander May 22 '13 at 11:23
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You are asking a lot of questions in one. I'll try to tackle the overall question itself.

Is it normal to expect a software company to allow me to work two hours less per day at the cost of reducing my Cost to Company accordingly?

While more and more companies are offering "Flexible Work Arrangements" these days, I'm not sure it's quite become the norm yet (at least not in my part of the world - it may be different where you live).

In my company we just recently began a formal system where you could ask your manager for permission to reduce your hours. You would be expected to come up with a process where your modified arrangement would work out for the company. Your manager would have the ability to grant or reject your request for reduced hours.

In my company, you can also propose "job sharing". In that case, you would have to find someone else to work with you and basically split a single job across two people. I don't know anyone here who has actually done that yet.

Most companies I know do not offer these options on a formal basis. Still, in one previous company where I worked, I allowed one employee to remain with the company while going from full-time to part time (at the cost of both reduced salary and reduced benefits). I was able to bring in an additional part-timer to make up for the lost work and fill the gap. In that case it worked out well for everyone.

In my experience, larger companies tend to offer more job flexibility. And I've seen it more in technology companies than non-technology companies (although that may be more a function of the types of companies where I have worked). The companies that offer it generally don't seem to offer it for specific professions only (such as only for developers), as far as I can tell. If they offer these benefits to one role, they tend to offer them for all.

In your specific case, if you are working for a company, you should already know if this is a formal offering or not. Check with your HR rep or company manual. Pay careful attention to the point at which your benefits start to be reduced in addition to your salary, if you care about these benefits. Sometimes, reducing your hours by 10 per week would put you into a part-time category, and your benefits would decrease significantly.

Even if it isn't formally offered, ask your manager if such a thing is possible. Often, you can get more than you would think just by asking! The worst that could happen is that they say "No".

And if you aren't currently working, look for some sort of Flexible Work Arrangement as part of the benefits package when you apply for a position. Many companies that offer this, make it well known, as they view this as a way to attract talent.

Barring that, consider applying only for part-time positions.

Flexible work arrangements may not be as common in India as in the US. But, based on my more than 10 years experience working with Indian divisions of US companies, I know that it does happen. And in particular, I know that the company I currently work for, which has a large division in India composed of Software Developers along with others, permits such arrangements. Perhaps your specific company allows them as well.

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    This reads as a very much US answer. Do you have any sources that back up your claims with regards to india? – IDrinkandIKnowThings May 21 '13 at 12:56
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    This question is specific to india so your part of the world may be irrelevant. You need to back up your claims that this answer applies to this question. – IDrinkandIKnowThings May 21 '13 at 14:42
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Another part of the equation is whether or not your time at work is directly related to profit.

Billable Hour Example:

If your total cost is 50 (generic currency) / hour and you take off 2 hour per day, you think reducing your income by 100 will cover everything. What if you are billed to customers at 100 / hour and bring in an extra 200 / day? Maybe the company can find other people to cover, but if not, the company needs the 100 savings by reducing your salary plus another 100: part for profit and part to cover other expenses (rent, support staff, support services, etc.).

Productivity: Not all hours of the day are created equal. Is it possible to work fewer hours but almost accomplish just as much? There are local laws that may prevent you from skipping lunch or other breaks. Showing you can still get your work completed is what concerns management the most.

Other options/arguements

Flex-Time: is there a way you can start sooner and have someone else be responsible for the child in the morning and you cover in the afternoon.

Work from home: Are there any tasks you could do away from the office? Even if you're just checking email, reviewing documents or other work, training/study.

Position isn't really full-time: Many employers offer full-time hours because they think all employees will want to make that much money, but there really isn't enough work to fill the whole day. They may think they'll grow and then more work will be there, but in the mean time, why not save the company some money. You may have to dig into your duties and have your manager get rid of some of the unnecessary tasks.

Other Benefits: By being with your child more often you can address minor illnesses before they get worse and force you to take several days off of work. Some people lose productivity if they have to deal with home problems from the office anyway. This is a fact of life and any employer that thinks parents never think about their kids on the job is just fooling themselves. Burn-out should be a concern for everyone who employs programmers on anyone else with a stressful position.

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There are reasons why companies might decline your request, primarily because the overhead of your position (rent, management time, equipment, benefits and so on) does not go down when you lower your hours. As well some managers just object to part time work or to caring about anything more than your job.

To increase the chances that your employer will say yes:

  • remind your manager how much you enjoy your job and that you want to keep working there
  • offer to reduce your pay by "an appropriate amount" - don't mention an exact number yet
  • ask for a specific length of time such as 3 months, 6 months, or whatever
  • say "please" and be clear that this is something that will make you much happier
  • do not say anything that suggests you would do poorly if you can't reduce your hours, such as that you are tired and need more rest or that you miss the baby

I have offered this arrangement to my staff and am glad I did. It was worth it for me to keep a good member of staff. I hope your employer chooses to try it, but you can't force them to.

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