Paid 4 d but childcare for 5?

(36 Posts)
B2work Fri 14-Jun-13 16:40:56

I hope you can help me. My flexible working application has been accepted on odd conditions and I wonder whether they are ok.

I have changed my MN name for this.

I am a solicitor and going back to work after 1 year mat leave. My line manager and I had previously discussed that I would work 4 days and have a guaranteed leaving time of 5 or 5.30 and start 8.30ish. Maybe check my blackberry and work from home every now in the evening if needed.

Things have changed at work. My line manager is off at moment for health reasons.

(1) I have been told that I can have 4 days but can be asked to come in 5 days without notice. I queried this informally and was advised I would at the discretion of one of the partners get a day off in lieu but would not be paid. Is that legal?

I am happy to work on day 5 on an exceptional basis (i.e. client needs to come in and can only do that day, special events, etc) but would need notice.

(2) When I said that I would have to pay for nursery on days booked and the extra day, I was told I needed to have childcare in place for 5 days. Again, I am only paid for 4. This puzzles me most and seems unreasonable. Everyone I talk to, tells me it's illegal but is it?

(3) Is it legal that I have to work on day 5 without notice.

I was very happy in the office previously but my mat cover is unhappy and is working 4 days but has to come in on day 5 almost every week. Also, appears people are leaving the department. I just feel uneasy as HR is not at all helpful.

B2work Fri 14-Jun-13 16:44:31

PS And I have to check my BBerry on day 5 at least twice a day and action things. Again, not paid for day 5.

Dackyduddles Fri 14-Jun-13 17:06:52

Personally on my hr experience your application sets out the terms you propose to work, childcare to do so and special considerations for your role. The firm then assesses these and puts forwards arguments. You then discuss again and the agreement is made (or not).

Do you have the acceptance of terms in writing maybe? If accepted that agreement stands for a year before either side can renegotiate.

Five days without notice does not sound very possible. Five days childcare does not sound acceptable for a generally four day week - I would think they would have to be much more specific than this down to how many a month. Salary pro ratas so I would say some over time could be expected but this doesn't sound like overtime. I would personally disagree on no notice. I'm not sure illegal is right term, however I do think there is effort to turn this Yes into a No by deeming you inflexible.

I recommend you seek further advice tbh. Fast. (Pm me if want, can recommend one if required in London) although many here are excellent so will be better qualified than me and might be able to confirm better.

Wish you much luck.

motherinferior Fri 14-Jun-13 17:10:39

Looks distinctly dodgy to me. You're being asked to work unpaid on day 5, to start with. And how on earth can they tell you to have childcare in place for that extra day?

lougle Fri 14-Jun-13 17:22:03

Did you have a formal Flexible Working Agreement, or was it just a chat? How long were you doing the 4 day week? Do you have, perhaps, emails that confirm that this was the arrangement?

B2work Fri 14-Jun-13 17:23:49

... they have told me I am paid for the role not for the hours I work.

I said I would be willing to work day 5 if paid on an exceptional basis.

They said, you won't be paid but will get a day off in lieu at discretion of one of the partners (they really don't care about nursery arrangements). In the written contract thing they have sent me, the word exceptional is missing. I am inclined to initially say that "exceptional" needs to be added again.

Iffy, right?

Thank you for your initial responses. xx

B2work Fri 14-Jun-13 17:24:56

lougle, I am on mat leave and about to return. This is about the flexible working agreement. I have emails that tell me I need childcare for 5 days even if I only get paid for 4.

motherinferior Fri 14-Jun-13 17:25:17

I think it is very unlikely you'll get a day off, in any case. They just want you back full time. In all honesty, you may be better off going back full time formally, and paid for it. I do realise however that this is totally not what you want - but they should formally refuse your request and stump up the cash!

motherinferior Fri 14-Jun-13 17:27:03

If they genuinely mean you're being paid for the role not for the hours, they'll pay you five days a week in any case, innit.

If you're a solicitor do you not know if it's legal or not... confused

B2work Fri 14-Jun-13 17:34:16

@PotteringAlong hahaha, we are all specialised in one field of the law. do you think e.g. a banking lawyer knows about medical negligence. wink

lougle Fri 14-Jun-13 17:43:33

I like your thinking, motherinferior.

B2work, I don't think their idea of flexible working is the same as yours.

B2work Fri 14-Jun-13 17:45:18

any city solicitors on MN who have experienced something similar?

B2work Fri 14-Jun-13 17:46:32

I just would like to do 4 days.

Lovingmybabiesbottom Fri 14-Jun-13 17:49:19

You are a solicitor, and yet you are asking mumsnet if something is legal.

You work for a law firm, I presume and hope that they would be sensible enough not to put illegal conditions into their employees' contracts.

Dededum Fri 14-Jun-13 17:52:51

I think I would go with MI, you are paid for the job, with standard hours but the proviso that you can be asked to work outside those hours. Not an employment lawyer but it sounds ridiculous to say 4 days but expect 5. Assuming you are getting pro rata for 4 days, 4 days must be expected. If you have always worked part time then rata the rate up and get paid for 5. They cannot have it both ways.

The thing is that you want the job, so are you prepared to work 5 days at the rate for 4 and take a pay cut?

B2work Fri 14-Jun-13 17:54:09

@Lovingmybabiesbottom have you read the recent story about the trainee lawyer that won a sex discrimination law suit against a big employment law firm. The world is not that simple.

www.thelawyer.com/news-and-analysis/practice-areas/litigation/travers-and-ex-trainee-reach-financial-settlement-on-pregnancy-discrimination-case/3005704.article

Dededum Fri 14-Jun-13 17:54:41

Loving... Solicitors are just as capable of acting dishonestly, fudging the boundaries as anyone. Ex solicitor here.

Dededum Fri 14-Jun-13 17:57:36

Oh and the other question - what sort of lawyer are you. I was commercial property and not very feasible to work part time when the client calls on a Thursday afternoon and needs a licence drawn up for close of business Friday.

However a tax lawyer, pensions lawyer might have more feasible.

girliefriend Fri 14-Jun-13 17:57:58

Hello not much help on whether what they are asking is legal or not (you would hope not in a firm of solicitors!!) but childcare wise is there a local childminder who would take your lo at short notice?

I absolutely would not pay for a days childcare that I may or may not need and imo they are taking the piss asking you to do that!

B2work Fri 14-Jun-13 18:02:23

@dededum where I used to work previously one of the partners was working a 4 day week without a problem. The type of work is absolutely suited for 4 days since matters are usually deadline driven (which are known in advance) and since I can (and have to) delegate to more junior lawyers.

B2work Fri 14-Jun-13 18:04:10

any employment lawyers on here?

cassell Fri 14-Jun-13 18:19:23

I'm a solicitor too but not employment so can't help on that side of things. When I was doing 4 days a week I did have childcare available for 5 days which I only used for 4 days as that meant that I could be flexible at reasonably short notice by switching my day off in a particular week - however I was always clear that I wasn't doing an extra day I was just switching my usual day off - eg if usual day off was wed and one week I needed to work that then I just told my team leader that I would take eg fri off that week or sometimes 'carry it over' to the following week if I was particularly busy. It worked fine. Also the nursery didn't offer 4 day places only 2/3/5 days so I had to pay for 5 anyway. I'm currently 3 days (easing back in after second ML) and only have 3 days childcare which is a lot harder from a work point of view.

However I wouldn't have been happy being expected to work 5 days and be paid for 4 days on a regular basis. Yes as a solicitor you are paid for the role not for hours worked but imo you should not have to do more on your weekday day off than you would on a weekend day off iyswim. So if as a FT employee you occasionally sent emails/did odd pieces of work at the weekend on v urgent matters then a similar level is fine and fair to do on your weekday day off as a PT employee. What is not fair to do is to have to work like a FT employee and be paid PT.

Those are my thoughts anyway - good luck with getting it sorted, doesn't sound like it will be easy.

Trazzletoes Fri 14-Jun-13 18:27:14

Loving solicitors firms are notoriously among the worst for employment rights.

Mandy21 Fri 14-Jun-13 22:28:44

I don't agree with that - you're not paid as a solicitor regardless of the hours you work. Yes you're a solicitor and you're expected to meet client service etc you're paid acccording to the hours you work. I'm a 3 day a week lawyer and I completely accept that I have to do extra hours, but not at my own personal expense. I'm contracted to do 21 hours and regularly do 30/35 hours etc, by staying late, working from home in the evenings. I'm paid as a part time solicitor. My full time colleagues are paid as full time solicitors. There has to be some recognition that you're not quite as flexible as a p/t as a f/t.

I'm not an employment lawyer either so can't tell you whether it's legal or not, but I would be wary of signing anything that said I had to work at very short notice / without notice without some sort of qualification like wherever possible or will endeavour. I also think its unreasonable to expect you to have childcare in place for 5 days (unless you can of course arrange childcare which is only payable on Day 5 if you use it).

I do however think its probably reasonable for them to say any extra days you work are not paid but are taken as days off in lieu. I've worked extra days quite often for business needs (I only have a 3 day nursery place and days can't be switched) so means that my H has to have a day off on those days. I then get it back as an extra day's holiday to be used at my discretion - although I have to have normal partner approval.

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