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 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.

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

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

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.

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.

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)

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 Tue 18-Jun-13 15:28:08

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

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

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

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.

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.

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

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.

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

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

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.

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

any employment lawyers on here?

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.

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!

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.

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.

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 17:52:51

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?

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.

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

I just would like to do 4 days.

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

any city solicitors on MN who have experienced something similar?

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.

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