Week 3: What do you want (part I)

The next stage of this week’s tasks takes us through a process which will ideally provide a template for our ideal work situation. Not in terms of actual role, but in terms of how work fits in to the rest of our life.

To that end, there are a number of questions we are to answer. As it involves a fair amount of navel-gazing, I’m going to split my responses over several posts.

Your own preferred work pattern (full- or part-time):
Definitely full-time for me. In purely practical terms, I am likely to have to travel a significant distance to get the kind of job I’m looking for, and I might as well have all the benefits in terms of salary, career progression, and potential responsibility. It’s a generalisation, but part-time is still seen by many employers as a dead-end role.

Your own preferred work location and what arrangements you would need to make.
Well, my ideal job involves a minimum of commuting. I don’t love sitting in traffic so much that I’d go out of my way to travel at rush-hour! However, given that I’m currently living roughly half way between Edinburgh and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, I’m almost certainly going to be spending a significant amount of time behind the wheel. I already have a relatively new car which is a pleasure to drive (a Honda Jazz) and which is fairly fuel-efficient. That’s important when the nearest decent-size city is over 50 miles away.

I’m quite willing to travel for the right job, and would be happy to be away from home several nights a week if it was necessary. Ideally, I wouldn’t be so far away that I couldn’t come back in an emergency. I’d probably consider finding a place to stay closer to work if I was sure to be in the same place most nights – some sort of shared flat arrangement with other young-ish professionals might be the way to go.

Now make notes on what childcare (or other care) arrangements you will need to make. How much will it cost, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of different options available?
No children, so no childcare. What is it with this course (and most people) that when you say you’re on a career break, they assume that a) you’re not working, and b) you’re off work to raise a family?

In terms of making arrangments to cover my responsibilities, things get a little complicated. I’m currently working in excess of 100 hours a week, and that workload isn’t likely to diminish in the near future. As I’m a partner in the business and self-employed, in order to go out and get a paying job, I will need to be earning enough to cover not just my own costs, but the costs of three employees.

A back of the envelope calculation for the minimum cost of employing three people for 35 hours a week goes as follows:
Minimum wage: £5.35/hour to cover 35 hours = £187.25/week
Employers NI contribution: (£187.25 – £84) * 0.11 = £11.34/week (based on calculation on page 8 of C38 from HMRC)

For three employees on the minimum wage: £595.82/week

That means that just to cover my replacement, I would need to be earning in excess of £30 000 a year after tax, and that’s assuming that I was paying the minimum….

That figure, of course, doesn’t cover any costs associated with my job like travel, clothing or food, and doesn’t leave me with anything left over at the end of the month either. I’m not currently paying myself anything, as we’re still at the stage of trying to build the business up, so the benefits of doing a job I love and which stretches me may well be enough. I’m already working flat out for no monetary gain, so I could put up with that for a while, and hopefully the business could take on more of the cost of employees as things improved.

It all sounds a bit daunting though.


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