flexible work

Flexible work no substitute for pay cuts

We know women are more likely to work flexibly but that's no reason to accept a pay cut.

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Flexible work is becoming increasingly popular but one of the biggest myths around it is linked to pay.

Some older-school employers, who shall remain nameless, see flexible working options as a substitute for a pay rise or promotion. But this is unacceptable.

According to the Victorian Public Sector Commission, a manager’s decision to award progression or performance pay should always be based on employee’s performance and should not be affected by decisions to work flexibly.

It’s an issue that many individuals face, particularly women when they return to the workforce after caring for young children.

But flexible work doesn’t always mean working less, just smarter.

In Australian there are at least six popular ways to work flexibly and we’ve analysed their pros and cons here.

Flexible hours: This is awesome for workaholics or people who just need a tincy wincy bit of flexibility, because it doesn’t necessarily mean working less, just working differently.

Basically you can set your start and finish times to work around other commitments like avoiding peak-hour traffic, yoga class, breakfast with your partner to name a few.

Depending on your circumstances you’re still working a full time week, but with flexible start and finish times.

Positives: Employers can still have a full-time position filled. Employees can work when it suits them.

Negatives: A common complaint by employees is that people still contact them when they’re not at work. Avoid this by communicating your schedule with stakeholders. And if you can, avoid taking phone calls, and definitely don’t send emails!

Work remotely: This is a great way to offer flexibility, but you’ll need the technology in place to allow this to happen.

This arrangement allows you to work around your own schedule and complete work in your own time.

Many large organisations like this option as it allows the role to be filled full time.

Positives: No peak-hour commuting and fewer interruptions from chatty co-workers.

Negatives: You need to be disciplined as working from home or remotely can come with a lot of distractions. Again communicate your schedule so people know when you’re working and when you’re not.

Compressed week: This allows you to work full time hours over fewer days. For example you may wish to work 3 x 12 hour days.

Positives: Allows more days off to attend to personal commitments.

Negatives: If you’re already working more than 40 plus hours a week, compressing these hours could create more stress than it’s worth, as well as there’s a lot of time away from the office.


Reduced weeks: This is similar to flexible hours. Some arrangements are working 30 hours a week instead of 40, and some people work a 9-day fortnight.

Studies have actually shown that moving to a 30-hour working week could improve our wellbeing, our family life, friendships and communities.

Positives: More engaged and productive staff. More ‘me’ time.

Negatives: As with flexible hours, you need to be disciplined and not fall into the trap of working when you’re not supposed to be. Or feeling the need to overcompensate for not working a full week.

Job Sharing / Job Splitting: This is when two people share the one full time job, each person works part-time, which fills the role full time. This opens up your job options immensely as you’ll be able to apply for full time roles as a team.


Positives: You can stay in your career and still have flexibility. Someone is filling the role when you’re not there, so you’re less likely to need to work on your days off and your employer gets full time coverage.

Negatives: Can take a while to find the right match, so start looking really early. Employers like the role to function as though it’s one person doing the job, which takes a lot of effort by the job sharers.

Part-time: This is the go-to flexible work option. Part-time work is permanent employment in a regular pattern for less than full time hours each week.

Positives: Permanent flexible hours

Negative: A lot of part-time workers actually want to work more. Again, a lot of people end up working extra hours outside of work to compensate for not being there.

So if you’re a workaholic, a new parent, an entrepreneur, an athlete, a student, nearing retirement, a person that breathes, there is a flexible work option for you. You’ve just got to work out which one works best for you and your employer.

Calculating pro rata pay: Just in case you need it, here’s some simple math to help you work how your pay might be affected by less hours worked.

  1. Divide the annual salary by 52 to calculate the weekly pay.
  2. Divide the weekly wage by 40 to calculate the hourly wage.
  3. Multiply the hourly wage by the number of weekly hours worked.

For example if you work 3 days per week and the annual salary is $78,000

  1. $78,000 / 52 = $1,500
  2. $1,500 / 40 = $37.50
  3. $37.50 x 24 = $900

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