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I've been working for three months in a software start-up. This is my first job after graduating university. The deal was that I would work for at least three months subject to evaluation, with the possibility of continuing if my boss liked my work. It was I who proposed this arrangement, because I wasn´t really sure if programming was "my thing", so I wanted be really sure before really commiting for a longer time. I was transparent about this and he seemed okay with it.

My performance has been good (at least he hasn't said anything bad to me about it), so I can continue next year. I liked the job, so I decided to continue too. The thing is, I hadn´t taken a vacation in more than a year and I'm really burnt out, so I asked him not to work January-February(with no pay) and come back in March. Again he seemed okay with this. Clearly it wasn't the best for him, but he agreed.

I want to ask one more thing: to work part-time from March onwards, with reduced pay. I want to try new things (maybe start my own business, write, etc) and I would really love to have more free time to do these things. Ideally I would work 3 or 4 days a week. Other colleagues work part-time, but it is only in a temporary way, while they complete degrees or things like that.

Am I f****d for not talking these things before with my boss? Am I asking too much? Am I an entitled millenial who doesn't know how the real world works? Or is it a reasonable request?

Please excuse any grammatical errors, English is not my first language. Thanks for your advice.

  • Is this programming related? Everyone is so desperate for programmers, that, you can probably pull it off. You realize that in any normal field, the boss would just smile, tell you to have a nice day and never see you again. – Fattie Dec 27 '18 at 18:58
  • You want to try new things that increase the chance that you'll quit this job, which makes you a potential part-time short-timer. I'm not seeing much of an upside for the company here, since they're likely to lose you now or later and in the meantime you won't be contributing as much. Also, check to make sure that starting your own business while employed part-time is OK. You don't say where you are, so we can't know any applicable laws. – David Thornley Dec 27 '18 at 21:58
  • I feel for you, OP, because I have experienced burnout and it is not fun. Having said that, your manager has already been pretty generous and frankly, if I were him and you came to me with the request I would let you go unless you were a really good programmer, so keep in mind that there is some danger in asking. – Jim Clay Dec 28 '18 at 13:26
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You can always ask, just be prepared to hear no.

In my experience, software developers do not work part time (unless there is a reason). For the most part, when someone is hiring they are looking for someone willing to work full time. The employer may choose to reduce your hours as a way to help you through something (as you have seen), but generally, developer jobs are full time gigs. You could argue that a contract for X amount of hours could be considered part time, but that's about it.

If I were to put myself in your Boss's shoes, I would say no. If it continued to come up after I said no, or your productivity reduced because I said no, I would just replace you with someone willing to work full time. Maybe I am just a jerk, but I think most people would do the same.

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    I would say no, but I would also think, "this guy is more hassle than he is worth", and I would get rid of him, so there is some danger in asking. – Jim Clay Dec 28 '18 at 13:22
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This depends a lot on the culture and legalities, both within the company and within your country of work. In the UK, for example, you have the right to apply for flexible working, such as working from a different location, or working fewer hours for pro-rata pay, and there is a limited list of reasons that your employer can refuse for.

All that said, it's far better to get an arrangement like this through polite requests that through statutory means - it's better for your boss to offer you an agreement to part time working than to force them into it legally.

I would say you should do this:

  • Ask to speak to your boss
  • Prepare a case as to why they should allow this - stay away from "I just don't wanna do this" type reasons, and lean towards reasons that sound more compelling, and maybe come up with some way in which you will give something back in return (you could take 50% time for 45% pay, for example, or you could commit to returning to take on more responsibility after a set time etc)
  • Consider why they might say no, and try to think of ways that you could mitigate this. If they will have to hire someone else, you could commit to mentoring them.
  • Definitely be prepared for the idea that they might refuse, and know what you want to do if this happens.

If they say no, will you quit, look for a part time job and then quit, or stay full time? You need to know in advance.

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[...] I hadn´t taken a vacation in more than a year[...]

In many countries employees are by law entitled to 2-4 weeks paid holiday leave per year.

Am I being unrealistic asking to go from working full-time to part-time?

You may ask anytime to change the conditions of your employment contract as laid out within said contract.

It is of course within the liberty of your employer to accommodate or end the contract if no compromise can be found.

Am I an entitled millenial who doesn't know how the real world works?

That is a given if your date of birth falls within the "millenial" category (;

EDIT:
You didn't mention that you only worked during the summer.
In that case you may only be entitled to a pro-rated amount of holiday or none at all.

I also did a quick search if employees are required to take vacation (inspired by a comment from SaggingRufus).

I found that employers are entitled to force their employees to take time off in Canada, and Japan is contemplating it.
Apparently in Germany they're even obliged as part of their duty of care to force employees to take the minimum mandatory vacation time (Landesarbeitsgericht Berlin-Brandenburg(Az.: 10 Sa 86/15),LAG München (Az.: 8 Sa 982/14)) - I read only a summary, not the verdicts themselves.

  • Entitled to 2-4 weeks, but not required to take. That wording makes me believe OP choose not to take one. – SaggingRufus Dec 27 '18 at 13:25
  • @SaggingRufus hmm you might be right. A good employer should "enourage" taking vacation though, it is in the interest of the company to have productive employees. Also, you got me thinking and a quick search revealed: employers are entitled to force their employees to take time off in Canada, and Japan is contemplating it.Apparently in Germany they're even obliged as part of their duty of care to force employees to take the minimum mandatory vacation time (Landesarbeitsgericht Berlin-Brandenburg(Az.: 10 Sa 86/15),LAG München (Az.: 8 Sa 982/14)) -read only a summary,not the verdicts themselves. – DigitalBlade969 Dec 27 '18 at 13:37
  • I know where I work (in Canada) we are always encouraged to take all of time. I tend to save my time (because it accumulated each year) and save it for big trips. So its not uncommon for me to just take a day here or there then after 3 years take a couple of long vacations – SaggingRufus Dec 27 '18 at 13:47
  • I haven't had vacations because I worked in the summer between my last two years of college. – queequeg Dec 27 '18 at 13:52
  • @queequeg then that's different. If you were seasonal (depending on the amount of time worked), you may not have been entitled to vacation time – SaggingRufus Dec 27 '18 at 13:54

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