What’s the time commitment like?

It’s substantial. If you watch the States from the outside, you will have seen Deputies show up for a meeting every three or four weeks, spend two or three days in (often long-winded and repetitive) debate, and go home. But that is really only the tip of the iceberg.

If you are on a Committee, you can expect to meet formally at least once a fortnight. Most meetings last about half a day, and your meeting pack could easily include up to 20 papers – somewhere between 100 (in a good week) to 300 pages of advance reading. In addition to that, you’ve got reading and preparation to do for each States Meeting. Many Deputies are on two Committees, so have double the workload.

There’s also a significant volume of emails to deal with every day, especially ahead of controversial debates. And constituency work – providing one-to-one assistance or advice to people who contact you for help – can consume as much or as little time as you’re willing to give it.

I kept a time log for most of 2019, so I can say with some confidence that I average a 45-hour working week. I have a bigger workload than a lot of States Members, because of the number of Committees I sit on, but I work pretty fast, so it balances out. I would guess 45 hours is fairly typical for a conscientious Deputy – I’m sure some work considerably more.

The job isn’t 9-to-5. You’ll have evening commitments (especially if you’re a President – that comes with some figurehead responsibilities, to show up at related charity events, awards ceremonies and the like) and the occasional very early morning radio interview. Meetings usually happen during office hours, which pushes reading, emails and admin to the corners of your day.

Very little of the work is repetitive, and a lot of it involves careful thought, so you have to concentrate – this makes it harder to work in long, solid blocks of time (if you can get one, between travelling to and fro for meetings). Your workload will peak ahead of Committee and States meetings, meaning evening or weekend work is fairly inevitable at those times.

On the other hand, there is a flexibility to this role that you don’t get with other jobs. There are definite quiet periods: a couple of weeks over Christmas and Easter, and in August, when the States is formally in recess (though Committees usually continue to meet). You can get stuff done then, or take advantage of the quiet to give yourself a holiday.

And you’ll learn that a week has its own rhythm – the day before a Committee meeting you’ll be flat out trying to finish your reading; the day after, you’ll probably be at a bit of a loose end. You might work ten hours the day before, and maybe only three or four the day after. Don’t be embarrassed by the quiet periods; you’ll more than pay for them in work during the peaks. But use them to take care of yourself, to catch up on household stuff or neglected emails, or just to get a breath of fresh air or a bit of exercise.

Go back to Getting Into Guernsey Politics
Go back to Section 1.1: Making the Decision
Register to Vote