My boss lets me work a four-day week – I still get paid for FIVE and save thousands a year on childcare

NEW MOTHERS Jack and Gabby Darracott, like millions of other moms and dads, faced a difficult dilemma – how to juggle work and childcare.

As son Theo approached his first birthday, the couple started looking for nurseries, but found that their chosen one only had room for him four days a week.

Jack and son Theo spend Thursdays together every week


Jack and son Theo spend Thursdays together every weekCredit: Jack Darracott

The only nursery that could offer five days was more expensive and further away.

So, 32-year-old Jack, an app developer from Leeds, decided to ask his boss if he could work a week of four days.

“I was nervous to ask. “It was in my contract that I could ask for flexible work, but there was no guarantee that they would say yes,” he told The Sun.

But not only did his boss give the request a thumbs up, he was told he would still be paid for the full five.

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Jack said: “I presented my case for a shorter week, but was worried about how I would budget for a 20% wage cut.

“But when I sat down with my boss Gareth [Hoyle, the boss of search engine marketing agency Marketing Signals], he said he was thinking of doing a four-day week across the company. I could not believe it.”

Since April, Jack has been working Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday and taking leave on Thursday to look after his son and get through the mountains of laundry accompanied by a young child.

“It was a game-changer,” he said.

“I have been doing this for three months now with no change in benefits or decrease in payment.

“It’s great – I can not remember what it’s like to work five days a week and I will never go back.

Not only does he get to spend more time with Theo – at £ 60 a day for nursery school, the couple has saved at least £ 3,000 a year on childcare costs.

Jack said: “The other nursery we had to use for five days was more expensive, so it could be £ 5,000 or £ 6,000 a year if you take that into account.

“It’s massive – it’s crazy how much childcare costs.”

Sky-high childcare costs are forcing parents to reconsider their careers, reduce hours or even leave the workforce altogether because they cannot afford rising bills.

Some parents even report that their toddler fees cost more than their monthly mortgage payments.

A part-time, 25-hour nursery for under two costs an average of £ 7,160 a year, according to a 2021 Coram Family and Childcare survey.

The government has promised to address the issue and this week announced plans to increase the number of nursery staff from four to five.

Babysitters will also be able to look after children in more places, such as community halls, and the government says the plans, which have yet to be approved, could save parents as much as £ 480 a year.

“I will never go back after five days”

Without the change after hours, Jack says he would have to get a new job that paid more to cover the higher nursery costs.

Or at worst, he would have to stop doing full-time childcare and try to pick up freelance work to look after his son.

“It was a great relief,” he said. “Since I moved to the four-day work week, I have been able to spend more quality time with my son and experience all the first milestones I would have missed if I had worked a full week.”

“I actually feel more present in the hours I work and the work week feels less of a meal.

“Since it started, I feel well rested, less stressed and generally a much happier person. You could not pay me enough to go back after five days.”

Working remotely in the pandemic has helped the case for more flexible work, he believes.

The pandemic, when millions were forced to work from home during restrictions, prompted a reconsideration of working hours at many businesses.

About 70 firms with more than 3,000 staff members have signed up to take part in a six-month-long pilot that will give workers an extra day off each week.

Like Jack, they will work four days a week, but will be paid the same salary as a five-day work week.

Jack’s boss, Gareth, said: “It’s important that my staff feel valued and understand that life outside of work is just as important.”

“This new model of work, which focuses on quality and not on quantity, will revolutionize the future of work and I am excited to be a part of it.

“A good job / life balance is the key to a happy and healthy workforce that leads to loyalty, which ultimately helps our business grow.”

Can I ask my boss for a week of four days?

All employees have the right to request flexible employment as long as you are with your company for at least 26 weeks.

This is known as making a statutory application.

There are different types of flexible work requests that you can direct, such as switching to part-time hours or compressing your work hours in fewer days.

Your boss should consider the request, but they do not have to agree and you may need to get a pay cut to work fewer hours.

To make a request, you should write to your employer who will then consider your proposal and make a decision, usually within three months.

If they agree, your contract will be updated to reflect the changes.

If they do not agree, they should give you a reason and you can complain to an employment tribunal if you feel it is unfair.

The government has previously undertaken to scrap the 26-week wait to make a flexible work request and allow workers to make it from their first day of service.

However, no date was given for the introduction of the new rule.

For anyone who wants to do similar, Jack has shared some tips.

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He said: “Think about how your role works and how you can make it work. Think of the potential blockers and work out a way around them.

“A record of a little confidence and being able to work on your own without holding your hand.”

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