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.

Rangirl Fri 14-Jun-13 23:15:31

In my experience solicitor firms pay lip service to flexible working I think you need to separate out the issues ie Childcare Many providers discount slightly for full weeks So it might not cost you too much more for 5 days rather than 4 I think in the current climate and with technology many solicitors are effectively on call on their Black berries all day every day so you might have to live with that aspect I was adamant I wanted a day off to spend with my child and if that is what you want I would stick to my guns and insist on a day off in lieu To be honest it is hard to work as a solicitor part time even if your boss is supportive ,if he is not then it is almost impossible Sorry not to be more positive but I think a lot of firms 'allowed ' part time when things were booming and they needed the staff but now that is not the case part time is very hard

SantaSkog Tue 18-Jun-13 13:11:12

Sounds very much like what happened to one of my friends (big law firm in London). She ended up working 5 days most weeks, plus weekends. She resigned after 6 months. :-(

My advice is to either go back full time and get paid for it, or find another employer who has a better attitude to part time working.

meebles Tue 18-Jun-13 13:22:24

if they are expecting you to fulfill the needs of the role, rather than working a particular number of hours it sounds like you are looking at a 'compressed hours' scenario - doing 5 days work over 4 plus home working/ occasional meetings on the 5th day. in that case you should be paid for the full time role.

B2work Tue 18-Jun-13 15:27:24

Yes Santa, I fear this is what it will be like....

B2work Tue 18-Jun-13 15:28:08

feeling low and deflated. Already looking for a new job.... not easy.

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Sun 23-Jun-13 13:59:33

Are you still there OP? I was about to write a long response, but realised you last posted on Tuesday so things might have moved on a lot. I'm an employment lawyer (though not practiced for a few years) and I'm happy to answer a lot of your questions.

Bit hmm at all the 'you're a lawyer, don't you know' responses. I think people's perception of solicitors is often governed by high street practices who do tend to do a bit of everything. In a large firm, you will spend your whole career in one area of specialism - bar two years of training where you will have touched on four different areas. It's a bit like asking a cardio thorasic surgeon detailed questions about immunology - they may be able to apply some general principles and recall some details from training, but it's not their area for specialist questions.

B2work Mon 24-Jun-13 21:13:48

Yes, I am still there....! Trying to speak with HR and thinking of getting external advice. Also job hunting. Way my addendum to contract is written they can make me work 5 days and only ever pay for four. Also, can ask me to work on day 5 without notice and it does not list that I will get BBerry or laptop or have a guaranteed leaving time. Also, the hours I propose take me outside the "28h" I owe them contractually. Right mess....! All help welcome.smile)

B2work Mon 24-Jun-13 21:15:26

HR does not even respond.... sent them a detailed email a week ago and got out of office, forwarded to "cover" HR who only sent me a holding response...... not impressed at all.

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Mon 24-Jun-13 22:03:12

Right, here goes.

Flexible working requests can be agreed, or refused on one of the set grounds set out in the legislation. Sorry I have to link to GOV.UK these days (directgov used to be a load better and more detailed) but here is the list.

Strictly speaking the legislation doesn't provide for counter-proposals and modifications. That's turning down the request, so you should still have had the business reason. Often negotiation on details is done more informally than that, but that's the strict interpretation.

As they are turning down your request (by adding a load of conditions) they need to be able to explain the business reasons for doing so. IME it is totally normal in these roles to expect some flexibility to answer emails and the odd call. They can require you to have flexibility to come in without notice if they can explain why it is necessary for the business (and that's genuinely necessary based on one of the reasons, not just that they are scared of having a part timer). However, I think a tribunal would want to know that they were genuinely thinking of situations where it could not be avoided. If they are agreeing a part time request, it needs to be on the basis that arrangements will be in place so that your work can be done part time - either they cover you or you find ways of covering things/making things wait until you are available (though as a matter of law, a flexible working proposal is supposed to be about how the job can be done part time, not about obtaining cover). I think they'd be in trouble if they had effectively 'falsely' agreed part time and made you work full time - either under sex discrimination or possibly constructive dismissal.

In terms of pay, I think they could get away with you not being paid extra if we were talking the same basis as coming in on a weekend - i.e. in some firms all that unpaid overtime is practically the norm, in others it is disaster times only. What they can't do is basically have you working full time without pay.

They cannot make demands of your childcare. It is none of their sodding business. I bet they've never told a full time staff member that they need weekend cover in case they need to come in. Their only interest is that you are available when you need them. Not how you do that. This is particularly the case if you aren't business critical - I know a few part time partners or heads of legal who are four days and have full time childcare because they do at least some work most fifth days. However, that is generally those people's choice as to how they provide the necessary availability for their role. And they are generally paid at greater than a 4/5ths rate.

I've PMed you a bit more too.

Twirlbitesruinedmylife Tue 25-Jun-13 22:08:11

Just wondering if your targets are being reduced to 80 per cent?

B2work Wed 10-Jul-13 14:26:30

@AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom

A BIG HUG TO YOU!!!!

HR now pretends I misunderstood the 5 day cover (I did not....but they got nervous as I have it in writing....) They meant sth different to what they wrote they now say.

I will go back 4 days - lets see how it works out.

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