I’m the bloody .5

In discussions about ‘working families’ as we are now all calling them, the key assumptions are that the male person in the family works full time and the female person works part-time. Usually half time. This is not the way it is in a large number of households, but when describing ‘working families’ it is usually what is implied

'Working' from home

It is also misleading. As you know ‘working mothers’ work ALL THE TIME, not just when they are being paid for it. However, we digress. The half-time part-time is usually expressed in HR land (where they care deeply about how these things are expressed) as .5. This simplifies things for the poor payroll people who, at least this way, have half a chance of actually paying you for the hours you work.

I will be paid to work half the standard hours. Standard hours for the public service are 0830 to 1651 or seven hours and twenty one minutes, with an hour for lunch for five days. Yes, it’s true – four fifty one. If you’ve ever seen old footage of Canberra, you will have seen the traffic jam in the Parliamentary Triangle, as all the public servants drive out of the car parks together – after having worked their seven-twenty-one. My regular hours will be eighteen hours and forty two minutes per week. And woe betide me if I forget to work those extra two minutes. I will actually be working slightly more, by twenty two minutes, than half-time. Leaving this little anomaly to one side, I will be working .5 of the standard hours. It is of course, a cliché of epic proportions to be the .5 and here I am, exactly that. I’m the point-bloody-five. Everything’s lovely and a one and a two and a three …

Being the point-bloody-five has its advantages. I will miss the staff meetings. I will not be there to donate to at least half the latest school fund raising thingys. I will miss at least half the morning teas. Being the point-bloody-five also means that I will be working to pay the childcare fees and the cleaner. So while I am off being a ‘working mother’ some other ‘working mothers’ are cleaning my house and looking after my child. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Are you the .5? Or are you the breadwinner? What’s working for you and yours?