Part-time work: 10 tips for career and family

Balancing family, career, household as well as your own interests and hobbies can be quite difficult – especially during the “rush hour of life”. It is clear that many parents would like to have a reduced workload in order to have more time for all the other important things in life. In the following we show what all those who (want to) work part-time should bear in mind.

Almost 40% of all employed people in Switzerland work less than 90% in their jobs this puts Switzerland far above the European average of just under 18%. Part-time work is particularly popular with parents of young children. After all, we want to spend as much time as possible with our little ones – but we also don’t want to neglect our careers. We want to have time for our own projects. Get involved in voluntary work. We don’t just want to do the housework after a full day’s work, nor at the weekend. Educate ourselves further. Bring more work-family balance into our lives. There are many reasons for working part-time – as well as advantages and disadvantages. With our tips, you’ll be well on your way to achieving success at work and a balanced family life, even with a part-time job.

Tip 1: Work at least 60%

Often finances are the deciding factor in how high the reduced workload must or may be. However, even if it is financially possible to work less, a 60% job is worthwhile for various reasons: Those who work a lower workload run the risk of creating pension gaps. If you earn less than CHF 21,510 per year, you will not pay any pension fund contributions and you will only receive a small AHV minimum pension after retirement. In the end, your ideal workload naturally depends on your starting salary. Your career plans are also decisive when deciding your workload. Depending on your profession and the company you work for, a lower workload can still take away your chances of advancement.

Tip 2: Create a (new) budget for your family

More time but less money – that’s the trade-off for a reduced workload. This makes it all the more important, even before you reduce your workload (or return to the labour market), to work out exactly how much money will come in each month and how much you will need for your family life. You may have to cut back a little, but you will enjoy more time together. Maybe a part-time job is not financially feasible at the moment. And maybe there are other solutions to reconcile work-life balance and budget – be it a move to a more favourable community, a higher part-time workload than you imagined, or a change of job.

Tip 3: Take a shorter break – for your career and for your self-confidence

The 14 weeks of compulsory maternity leave in Switzerland and the two weeks of paternity leave are very little – all young parents probably agree on that. Those who can and want to afford it financially often consider taking a longer break. Here, too, the question of provision is important: if you don’t quit your job completely, but take a shorter break of a maximum of six months, you keep the provision gap small – and do a lot for your own career, having independence from your partner and for your own self-confidence. After all, a job that you enjoy doing is also a real boost to your self-confidence, ambition and purpose. We have compiled more tips specifically for mums returning to work after maternity leave in the following. 

Tip 4: Make smart provisions for you and your family

Providing for yourself sounds boring to many, but it’s super important – especially if you have a family. If you work less than 90%, you naturally pay lower contributions into the 1st and 2nd pillars (AHV and pension fund). This means that you will not only receive a lower pension on retirement, but also lower benefits in the event of disability, incapacity and death. If you have a pension gap due to a break or a low part-time workload, you can still make up for it during the following five years. You can see how your pension provision stands on your AHV statement. At the same time, you should also pay into a private pension plan (pillar 3a) when you have a lower income. That way you not only provide for your retirement, but also save taxes. And if you invest wisely, you can even get more out of your money. We explain how this works below.

Tip 5: Insure yourself 

Do you work at least eight hours a week for the same employer? If so, you are also insured through your employer in the event of a non-occupational accident. Otherwise, you will have to take out additional accident insurance. This can easily be done through your health insurance company or your employer’s insurance company.

Tip 6: Not married? Conclude a cohabitation agreement. 

A cohabitation agreement is generally a good idea for many unmarried parents – no matter how much you work. However, the cohabitation agreement is especially worthwhile if one parent only works a little or has a low income. It prevents you from getting a low pension on retirement if you only earn a small salary, because in the case of unmarried couples the pension fund amounts are not divided in the event of separation. 

Tip 7: Create clear structures at your workplace

Financial aspects are not the only important factor in making part-time work function. Part-time work can become an obstacle to your career if there are no clear structures at work. When are you available? When are you not? On which days do you work and for how long? Set this out clearly from the start and communicate your attendances and absences clearly so that no uncertainties arise. Make it clear that you are not available during certain times and days – and implement this consistently. 

Tip 8: Get your priorities straight

If you work less, you have more time for your family or your interests – but also less time at work. This makes it all the more important to structure your working time well and prioritise your work. Working efficiently helps you to concentrate on your family, the household, your other projects or on yourself on your days off – without always thinking about your job. In the following we explain how to set priorities not only in your job, but also in your private life.

Tip 9: Don’t miss the boat

Efficiency and priorities are central to your new presence at work. However, don’t forget your work colleagues. Coffee breaks, lunch together or a breath of fresh air during a short afternoon walk should also be part of your part-time workload. After all, interpersonal interaction is just as much a part of your job as the work itself – and it’s also good for you to talk to your colleagues. The same applies to training and further education: internal workshops, lectures and external further education often fall victim if you already work less than 90%. However, even with a part-time job, prioritise your own further education in order to advance your career. 

Tip 10: Enjoy your time

Finally, the most important thing: enjoy your new found time exactly as you want to. The “rush hour of life”, the time when we want to achieve everything at once, can be quite exhausting. Consciously make time and space to enjoy your life outside of work. Divide yourself up with your partner in a way that makes sense for you. Plan time for yourself and your interests – and don’t lose yourself amongst work, family, household and all the many things you have to do every day. 

Whether full-time or part-time, balancing career and family is a challenge for many young families. This is exactly why we are committed to improving the work-life balance and support young families with advice and support.