Family-Friendly Employment Arrangements

Moms (and many dads, too, for that matter) are forever trying to reduce the amount of conflict between their work and home lives. While achieving perfect work-life balance may be impossible, there are options out there that may ease the tension for your life.

1. Flex time. Flex—short for “flexible”—time has different definitions with different employers. Some use it as a label for working a certain number of hours per week from home. Other use it as a term for changing the start and end times of your work day, or the number of hours worked in a given day, to better suit your schedule.

For example: if it’s crucial for your family that you be at home in the afternoon hours, your employer might allow you to come in a couple of hours earlier (6 am) and leave a couple of hours earlier (3 pm). Or, if you needed to be home every Wednesday afternoon for your kids’ activities, you might leave at noon on Wednesday, but work one extra hour every other weekday to compensate. Some employers allow a five-day work week to be compressed into four days by lengthening the work day.

2. Work from home. While it doesn’t work for every business or industry, some professionals are able to complete essential work tasks from a home office. Some employers offer a partial work-at-home option as a flex time option, allowing workers to complete part of their hours from home and the remainder in the office. Others may allow full-time telecommuting.

3. Part time work. Some seasons of life are better handled by reducing the number of hours worked temporarily. Your employer may allow you to shift to a part-time position for a time, allowing you to remain connected to your company and keep work skills up-to-date, while allowing time needed to care for small children, an aging parent, or other personal obligation.

4. Leaves of absence. Sometimes, extraordinary circumstances like illness or bereavement require that you take a break from work obligations for weeks or months. In these cases, some employers will allow you to take a leave of absence—maintaining your status as an employee while taking unpaid leave from your position. While the income is usually lost, it may allow you to continue access to key employee benefits like health insurance while you’re away. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) requires that employers allow up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a 12-month period for births, adoptions, placement of foster children, serious medical conditions related to the employee or family members, all while maintaining your usual group health insurance coverage. Additional leave is mandated for service members under certain conditions.