Picture of a judge's wigThis Is Not A BLOG!Picture of a judge's wig

Date: 02/05/08

Time Off

Something of a momentous day.

With effect from next Tuesday, I will no longer be a full-time civil servant.

Instead, I'll be a part-time one.

I've always been reluctant to talk about the job I do. This is partly because it isn't remotely interesting to anyone else (indeed, it's become only intermittently interesting to me), but mostly because you have to be bloody careful lest you let something slip which will either piss off a colleague or will shine even the briefest, dimmest of lights on the way the Depratment has been generally screwed around with in the last few years.

So here's the deal, chums: you don't ask me in how many ways one of the major branches of the civil service has been re-organised, de-organised, outsourced, contracted out, just simply contracted, demoralised and placed into the hands of people who would be sacked from their local whelk stall for incompetence. In return, I promise not to tell you.

With that safely out of the way, you might be able to discern a certain cynicism in my attitude. Well, I enjoy the job I do. I enjoyed it a lot more before large chunks of the previous paragraph were applied to it, but there are still far worse things for an intelligent human being to be doing in our office than what I do.

Nevertheless, I'd been thinking matters over for a couple of years, and finally decided that I'd like to sample this 'work/life balance' that our masters keep talking about being committed to. In short, I'd quite like to have a life to balance out my work.

So I worked out the financial implications, and found that I would be able to manage it, at least for a year. I could get a temporary arrangement to go part-time for a year, with the option of making it permanent.

Except that I soon discovered that I couldn't. Despite what our Human Resources (and I loathe that term; makes it sound like we're all just gravel) section say on their web pages, I was not to be allowed to avail myself of a short-term change in my contract. The sneaky reason is this: if they gave me a temporary arrangement, I could then insist on being given full-time hours back at the end of it. This they were not willing to do, and this is what set off a brief outbreak of "Grrrr!" on the Rants page a few weeks back.

I've got my union looking into whether Sand And Gravel (sorry, I mean HR) are allowed to do this, but after some further thought (only some of which involved happy fantasies of what I'd do with a small flamethrower and a one-way train ticket to Nottingham) I decided that I would go part-time anyway, and sod 'em.

The non-financial advantages were overwhelming. I mean, we've got Summer a-coming in (at least in name), and the chance to spend some time in the garden (and getting on top of same) was attractive. In the winter, it would mean that I would always get home before it got dark. And at every time of year, it would give me that nice warm glow which comes from being able to walk out of the building at about 14:00 and leave the rest of the poor buggers to it.

On top of all this, I'm fed up of getting up at half past six in the morning and not getting home again until half past four for no more reward than to be told that I'm being an inflation-busting economic vandal for wanting my pay to keep pace with price rises. I'll be forty-six next month, and I can think of more interesting ways of spending my time.

I know my pay will go down by 7/37ths now, and I know my pension will be crap. But it was always going to be crap anyway, and by that point I may be past caring in any case.

Liberation (even of the partial kind) feels good so far.