National Migraine Centre
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Reducing working hours


I am considering asking my employer if I can reduce my working hours, from full time to 3 days a week (so they can recruit a job share). For the last year I've had post viral fatigue following an awful bout of flu, and my migraines have increased from one a month to at least one a week. I feel so unwell so much of the time, and although I can work full time, I can't do anything else in my life and I feel really miserable.

Has anyone requested this from their employer? Were they sympathetic? Any tips? Any advice would be very much appreciated.



12 Replies

Migraine Trust are pretty good at advising on this sort of thing, see or contact them: or 020 7631 6973. All the best!


Hi I was like you this time 2 years ago . I ask to drop my hours and was sent to see HR who agreed this was best . I went to four day a week but still was ill fortnightly so I ask to drop to three days . My manager would not agreed to this and in the end I left last feb. I have found out now I had a case of unfair treatment by him as my Migraine came under the disability act .leaving my job was the best thing i did lucky my husband was on a good wage .I have less migraines maybe one every month now.They say stress can cause migraines and diet and I have change my life around by changing these two things . good luck things can get better I am a different person from last year .


Thanks for your replies. I will try and contact the migraine trust - just a bit difficult from work.

Madmandy - glad to hear things have improved for you. I agree the constant stress of feeling ill, worrying about feeling ill and the pressures at work about the work itself and my sickness can be too much and makes my migraines (and the fatigue) worse. Fingers crossed they are sympathetic to my request and don't make me jump through too many hoops or drag it out for months! Will post again with an update in due course.


I cut my hours 3 years ago when changing job. I was worried about telling my new employer about my chronic pain & migraines but found it helped to be open, and to accentuate the things I could do.

If you go part time you need to be careful to stick to your hours. It's really tempting to stay a bit late or to take on new projects, and I know a lot of part timers who feel guilty about being part time & therefore have to try to prove themselves by working harder. Take it from me, this is not good! I'm currently working my old hours again to get a project done, and although it's not effecting my health, I resent it a bit. It certainly helps to know that if you're not feeling well there's a day off coming up. My boss is quite flexible too, so sometimes I can swap my days off around, although if you're ill you have to have sick leave.


I do not work so have absolutely no advice here ---but I do have a question--- how do you know if your migraine will not attack on your work days? Mine arrive for no apparent reason sometimes. please do not think I am being critical/sceptical

Or is it that you can manage the migraine if you have the recovery time on your days off


I don't know when they will strike! So it is a matter of plodding on and knowing that I can rest on a day off and will recover more quickly than if I don't rest. I can usually halt the bad ones with medication and then collapse at home later. If it's really bad I have to go home, but to be honest, this doesn't happen that often. I work short days so I can get home quickly. The disadvantage is that I have to spread my working hours out across four days but it is somehow easier than cramming them all into 3 longer days.


I suffer from hormonal migraines, so I can be ill for several days every month. I reduced my working hours from 30 (4 days) down to 24 (3 days) last year for 3 months by agreement with my manager, just to give me a bit of a break. My migraines still happen, and I still have time off sick sometimes, but unfortunately I can't afford to reduce my hours permanently, as I would like to do. My employer seems happier to know I am basically working my full hours most of the time, even though I am off sick sometimes, rather than have me work fewer hours as the role is not being fully covered (and I still need some time off sick), as the migraines don't just happen on my days off.

My employer has been very reasonable, but I think there is an understanding that migraines are covered by disability discrimination, and that when I am not off sick, I am able to do a good job.


Hi Monica, what a good idea to try for a job share. I have job shared for 25 years now, first as an employee and now in my own small business. I still work with the employer who first appointed me on a job shared basis - two of us three days a week each working flexitime. Some of the things my employer and I both liked about it. The ability to be in two places at once when need be. My jobshare and I never went on holiday at the same time so there was no need for holiday cover. If one person left the other one was still there and could provide continuity and training for a new replacement person. Because the job was so flexible we were able to recruit higher level people with a better skills mix than we would have got for a full time post. I liked bouncing ideas off my jobshare and we both did a better job in consequence. Generally the job was big enough for 6 days a week, but when finances were tight we both went down from 3 days a week to 2 days a week and when there was a rush on we both worked 4 days a week. It cost more than one person 5 days a week but it offered an awful lot more flexibility. If you would like more info do let me know.


I agree with Daisyrose's comment that when not off sick we do a good job. I know there are people out there who play the system and have "duvet days" and spoil it for everyone, but migraine is not an excuse for a day off in front of the telly, as we all know. I think I work harder to make up for the times when my brain isn't functioning. Organisations have a tendency to come down very hard on sickness at work - I had a job once where only a certain percentage of the team was allowed to be sick at any one time - madness!!- and as a result, people tended to come in when they should really be at home in bed. Employers need to recognise the hard workers and not punish everyone because of the minority. I know it costs employers in sick pay & loss of productivity and can can be a problem sometimes, but treating us with a bit of flexibility and giving us support so that we can spend more time at work must surely be worth it.


Thanks teadrinker-- I thought it probably was the case of "the days off enabled you to rest and enable you to cope with the nasty other times".. I know if I "pretend" I am not suffering and try to carry on as normal (using medication) it takes me longer to recover, I bet you work harder on your days of work to "make up" for the time off and to prove you are worthwhile keeping in work.

I hope this works out for everyone trying to get reduced hours.

on sick hour allocation........My husband (not a migraine suffer) can only have 3 weeks sick in 3 years !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Crazy, isn't it! I have worked in places where you are better off having three months off in one go following surgery, than 4 single days over a 12 month period for something like Norovirus or a migraine, because each episode of sickness counts against you, and if you go over your allowance of 3 days per year that's not allowed!


hi all

i'm seriously thinking of reducing my work hours because i get so many bad migraines....i'm being taken to the hospital because of these at least twice a month....i believe my employer is getting fed up with my constant non attendance...(altho i attend work,if i leave,because of sickness,its classed as an absence)i've only been in the job since november and already i'm facing a discipline for being off ill so many times.

I need to see if i can get any sort of disability benefits before doing so


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