Flexible working request -alternative hours 'offered'

(20 Posts)
NCH73 Fri 03-Jan-14 19:25:06

Hello
I am currently on maternity leave from my full-time job. I have applied under the flexible working legislation to return part-time (4 days each of six hours). At the meeting I was told this couldn't be done because it would cost too much to cover my other hours. I stated that I thought it would be possible with some planning and requested a trial period. My manager said he would come back to me about that. No other hours or options were discussed at the meeting. I have now received the letter offering me a 3 month trial period of 5 days each of 6 hours. It does not state why I cannot try the hours I originally requested. These hours do not suit me at all and I feel that I have not been given the option to discuss this. I would like a trial period of the hours I originally requested.

Does anyone know where I stand legally and how best should I proceed? I have not yet responded to the letter.

lotsofcheese Fri 03-Jan-14 19:28:59

My understanding is that employers are not legally obliged to agree to flexible working requests; they only have to consider them & provide "sound business reasons" for declining the request.

OddBoots Fri 03-Jan-14 19:29:51

The info in this acas leaflet might be useful while you wait for a reply from someone who knows more than me.

OddBoots Fri 03-Jan-14 19:31:49

Actually, it sounds like it is worth a quick phone call to make sure there isn't a typo in the 'offer' letter.

starfishmummy Fri 03-Jan-14 19:32:58

I agree with what cheese says. The legislation only gives you the right to make the request. It doesn't mean the employer has to agree.

PortofinoRevisited Fri 03-Jan-14 19:34:38

Who will cover the other hours?

NCH73 Fri 03-Jan-14 19:34:59

Thanks Oddboots. The leaflet does say that they can confirm a compromise agreed at the meeting, which it wasn't. Not sure what good it will do me though, they have obviously made up their minds that I'm not going to try the hours I originally requested...

Mikkii Fri 03-Jan-14 19:35:30

Legally you are entitled to request flexible working. There is no legal requirement for your request to be met.

You do have a right to appeal the decision.

The employer's letter refusing your application for flexible working must include:
The business reason for refusing your request;
An explanation as to how flexible working affects their business; and
How you can appeal.

NCH73 Fri 03-Jan-14 19:39:20

I know what you're saying cheese/starfish, but I don't believe they've considered my request in good faith. And, no, Oddboots, the letter is explicit that the cannot accommodate my original request. Portofino, my role doesn't need someone there every minute of the day, I work in IT, not a support function, so with some planning my work/meetings can be scheduled for when I am available.

OddBoots Fri 03-Jan-14 19:57:33

Then your only option really is to appeal. Has it been confirmed that you'll be returning to the same job you left? Depending on how long you have been away they could move you to an equivalent role which could make a difference to the 'business reasons' stuff.

maybe give acas a call and get some advice on how to do things, they're the experts.

It looks like they are suggesting a compromise. You currently do X, have asked for Z and theyve offered Y.

Appeal, give it a try, or decline and return full time.

They dont have to give you Z because youve asked for it.

NCH73 Fri 03-Jan-14 20:00:24

Thanks OddBoots, I'll call them on Monday.

OddBoots Fri 03-Jan-14 20:13:16

They're open 9am-1pm tomorrow if you'd rather call them sooner (08457 47 47 47).

If your job can be done in 4x6h days then they should let you, the whole point of the law is to allow for such things, I hope you're able to get a good resolution.

NCH73 Fri 03-Jan-14 20:16:31

Interestingly, Oddboots, they've agreed that my 'core' job description only requires me 2/3rds of the time, the rest of the time I am covering the generic 'other duties as required' line that everyone gets in their job description.

PortofinoRevisited Fri 03-Jan-14 20:24:42

But someone has to pick up the "other" surely? So say you work 37 hours FT, and you are proposing to work only 24 hours - so is the rest of your work redundant? Will others have to pick up the slack? I don't see where you have covered that in your proposal.

Maybe they want/need you in each day, so three days wont work for them so shorter days over five works best?

Unexpected Fri 03-Jan-14 23:39:49

OP, are you sure that your job can be done in the reduced hours? You talk about "other duties" and that with planning your work and meetings can be scheduled for when you are available but have you actually offered specific suggestions as to how exactly this would work? The fact that the "other duties" are not core to your role does not mean that they don't need to be done and if you are vaguely suggesting that other people are going to pick up the slack then this will probably not go down well.

To be honest, covering two hours per day plus a full day sounds like a difficult ask for any employer to cover. Could you consider three full days per week in which case they could employ someone else to cover the other two days?

If you really think that your job can be done in 4 short days, you have to ask yourself why the company wouldn't agree to it?

NCH73 Sat 04-Jan-14 19:20:12

Thanks for the comments everyone. I think that one of the salient points will be that my job can be done in 24 hours, they've already agreed that. I have, in the past, been picking up other teams' slack when I've not been busy with my own work. I'm proposing that I stop doing that - my manager doesn't have to take into account how another team manages its workload.
My work is all project based, so not having me there for two hours a day shouldn't be a problem. I don't have to react immediately to situations - on the rare occasions when I'm doing an implementation I can make alternative arrangements.
Unexpected, I think the reason my company didn't agree to it is because it is old-school, male dominated and doesn't particularly like change. There aren't many women in my area...

wombat31 Wed 08-Jan-14 22:11:47

My friend had this issue and ACAS said she had the right to apply for flexible working and they had granted flexible hours but not of X days but of Y days....she had no leg to stand on regarding the hours they offered. In your case you have requested the flexible working hours and they have granted them obviously they are not the hours you wanted but they have granted you 'flexible working hours' technically which is what you requested. This is probably what they will come back to you with if you appeal. They will say they fulfilled your request. My friend found this an issue because she then went to make another request and was told that she was legally only able to make 1 per year and she had had hers.

NCH73 Thu 16-Jan-14 15:18:00

I've decided there is no point trying to force them into giving me the trial of the hours I've asked for, as they can just say after 3 months that it isn't working and I need to go full-time. Instead, I'm going to ask nicely! Very unlike me, we'll see if it gets me any further than the stroppy method!

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