Have you or your partner requested flexible working and if so how has it worked out?

(51 Posts)
carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 05-Sep-08 17:20:45

The EHRC are keen to find out more about whether flexible working was working for Mumsnetters and their partners.

So just wondered how many folks have asked to work flexibly post-kids - and since the legal right to ask came in - and how did it work out in practice?

If you've gone back into the work place following a career break, have you been able to get flexible working, and has it worked for you and your employer?

After maternity leave I went back to work three days a week, no problem at all. I've just switched to five days a week, but only six hours a day, and term-time only (not contracted to work the longer holidays, that is).

First time was just a done deal, second time I had to do a little more work, putting forward a business case and suchlike - but that's more because I work for audit and we have to do everything by the book, rather than because there was any real concern about it being appropriate. The biggest concern was whether we had the money to pay me for an extra (averaged out) 1.75 hours a week!

DH still works fulltime (same employer) but just makes the most of the flexitime that the majority of us work to, so he will be taking DD to school once I finish my current school settling-in leave (annual leave banked over the last four years).

The best thing has been that I've been retrained whilst working part-time, same amount of money invested as in a full-timer, and the amount of time (in years) that I'm expected to stay in post is the same, so in theory I could get the training and put in far fewer hours in return. In practice I'll probably stay longer.

mattersnot Sat 13-Sep-08 23:15:19

Me sort of (came back on flexible training scheme which I think has now gone after dd1)

I was supposed to do 3 days a week

I ended up doing over 4 during the year.

I was continually blamed, picked on and sidelined.
Including the very memorable comment by one boss that my non-attendance on on of the days I was supposed to be off was 'typical' 'some people do all the work and some none' said to me in front of a whole room of people and resulting in more then one complaint to the HOD!

I was made to go in full time to cover my colleagues leave.

There were supposed to be 3.6 of us in the job they frequently left it with me and one other girl who was so slow I did most of her work when I was there (as well as the other persons)

I was offered time back to cover my own training and then not allowed to take the time back.

I was not supposed to work weekends then made to work a disproportionate number of Fridays (defined as weekend)

I was underpaid

I was not allowed to accrue annual leave on mat. leave, nor did they pay my pension.

They paid a sum of money to my colleagues whilst I was on mat. leave and not me (discrimination.)

It was one of the times I have worked the hardest in my career, (apart form the abuse I enjoyed it)

Now I have 3 more children and I work full-time, my job is much easier but my department is a bed of vipers, my boss wont talk to me, my childcare arrangements have been crumbling all summer, my dh does next to nothing. I am about to approach them with another request for flexible working they will need to agree or I think I will have a nrevous breakdown, I'm sure I will end up resigning despite finishing my training and being at the peak of my career.

I work for the NHS my first employer was on the face of it one of the most family friendly I've seen, loads of staff doing part-time, term time contracts etc !!!!

kbaby Sun 14-Sep-08 20:32:23

I went back flexible working after DS 2 yrs ago. I requested to return to work on a 4 day week with only a 30 min lunch and fixed hrs. This was granted and to be as flexible as possible I agreed to still work 1 in 6 saturdays and 1 late shift a week. I am a team manager and at first they were select about what teams I could manage, ie my old manager refused to have me back as he said he could not accomodate a part time team manager, however since being back ive changed teams twice and they havent compained about me being part time.

I do struggle with the amount of work I have to do as I do full time work and I feel that I miss out on meetings etc as they always seem to happen on my day off.
When DS starts school I will put in a request for early finishes instead of the 4 day week.

googgly Sun 14-Sep-08 20:36:16

Just a comment as a manager. I let all my staff work flexibly, and encourage them to think of work as something to do, rather than somewhere to be. I particularly love the part-timers I manage, as most of them achieve the same as full-timers because the concentrate harder knowing that time is short, yet they cost less. Judging from my experience, managers who refuse requests to work part time are shooting themselves in the foot.

scaryteacher Tue 16-Sep-08 08:41:43

I went back to work after maternity leave in April 1996 and went from full time to a 3 day job share. When ds went to school full time, they were great and allowed me to do the same hours over 5 days, so I worked for 6 hours a day, and it fitted beautifully with school drop offs and pick ups.

There were some advantages to working for a Local Authority. Even then, they sorted out the job share for me, as the onus was on them to make it happen once a job share had been requested.
Once I retrained as a teacher, a job share wasn't an option, but there were reduced timetable jobs available.

titchy Tue 16-Sep-08 09:41:19

Dh was abel towork flexibly in his old company before the legislation came in. After it came in and he applied to have flexible working formalised they said yes he could leave early two days a week but he'd have to reduce his hours to do so (rather than work at home - the company's arguement was that no-one can do two jobs at the same time, i.e. work and look after children hmm). He had no choice but to agree. He did that for a couple of years (that really awkward period where one dc was at school and the other in day care nursery. Once 2nd dc started school I re-arranged my hours and he joined another company FT.

Other companies he has worked for since have allowed him to work from home quite a bit (private sector, city-type roles), but on an informal basis, which suits him as he feels if he formalises things he would get less flexibility.

I was always able to work flexibly cos I had a super-understanding boss (public sector), so have never needed to formalise a request. However when organisation was restructured last year bosses of the roles that were available to me as on the same grade indicated (in writing - more fool them) they woldn't countenance flexible or PT working so I applied for voluntary redundancy. I also got a solicitor involved and jumped up and down shouting sex discrimination - and got a nice pay off grin

Flip side is I am now desperate to find a job with at least some flexibility that pays reasonably well rather than the junior temp job I'm doing ATM sad

I had a good experience. I was able to come back to work three days (on the days I wanted) - and although you couldn't technically "do" my old job part-time, my boss changed my responsibilities to make it fit. The way he saw it, he would rather I was there doing something than not being there at all (I had been with the company ten years before I had DS1, and now have DS2). I have a good balance between work and home, and a great childminder and good support from school (breakfast club etc). I still get to take DS1 to school and pick up two days a week, plus I can get involved with activities for the school (like helping on school trips, reading etc). I am well aware that I am incredibly lucky that it all worked out for me - its been the best thing for the whole family smile

TigerFeet Tue 16-Sep-08 10:02:26

I have had two completely different experiences.

The company I was working for when dd was born were awful. When I went back after ML they agreed to cut my lunch break from an hour to half an hour so that I could start half an hour later with no loss of salary. That was where their flexibility ended. I struggled immensely from the start. I had a 45 mile round trip to work, DD was in nursery from 8-6 Mon-Fri, she caught constant coughs, colds and got chickenpox within three months of my going back to work. My boss at the time organised a laptop so that I could work from home a couple of days a week which helped enormously. Sadly my boss was killed in a car crash whilst on a business trip and after that it all went tits up. The lap top was taken away, I had to be in the office every day. I applied using the Flexible Working Regulations to have it back and was turned down. I went to appeal and lost. I was verbally advised by HR to apply for part time hours, which I did and was turned down. Through all this I had a lot of time off with stress and depression. I was seen by a company doctor and I said that I would be far more able to work if I could cut my hours. He told HR that I was fit to return part time. HR then said that if I was fit to return part time then I was fit to return full time and they were going to stop paying me unless I went back. I went back, found another job asap and got the hell out of there.

The job I have now is the one that I left the above for. It couldn't be more different. I worked full time to start with, then slightly reduced hours after a period of illness. DD has just started school and I have reduced my hours to 21 p/w so I can work round school hours. There was no formal application procedure needed - I spoke to my boss, she asked what I would prefer to work, and I was granted those hours. No fuss, no problem.

Working for a company that has such a great attitude to working parents has made such a difference to both my mental and physical health. I am no longer run down, no longer on AD's and I feel that I finally have the work/life balance that suits me.

Fennel Tue 16-Sep-08 10:06:22

DP requested it, to work a 4 day week, he works for an IT company. They did permit it but grudgingly, after waiting a while, and probably only because they knew he'd leave otherwise. He had to be quite insistent.

It works well, he also gets flexible hours and takes unpaid parental leave in the holidays. The company don't like it but tolerate it. Their payoff is that he's still there, he'd have left otherwise.

Everyone in my job works flexibly anyway so I haven't had to request anything.

nicholsonjs Thu 18-Sep-08 12:31:04

I have been lucky. I requested part time hours when off on maternity leave with my first child and came back to work 3 days a week. I am in the Civil Service who I think are pretty good with their flexible working policies. I then went on to get promoted as a part timer and now work with in a job share partnership.

My husband's job does not allow him any flexibility so I am the primary caregive. My immediate line management are great and understand if I need to leave etc because of nose bleeds, sicknesses etc etc etc (the list is endless)!!!

renaldo Thu 18-Sep-08 12:46:58

went back 3/5 days after DS1 (NHS) was bullied and sidelined and hated it - now work flexibly in a university and they are wonderfully accomodating and nice and i work really hard in appreciation-
the NHS were shit in comparison

nooname Thu 18-Sep-08 12:48:54

My dh has requested flexi working 3 times now, all in the public sector. We are still waiting on the 3rd request but the first 2 were both granted as he requested.

1: reduced and constricted hours to 4 day week.

2: constricted hours to 3 days plus 2 long mornings.

3: reduced and constricted hours to 4 day week.

The only comment I would make is that although he has had his requests granted he does feel guilty about it and I think it can be hard for men particularly to change to flexible/PT working.
It is more socially acceptable for women than men to put their children before their career and men who do it can feel more sidelined?

elkiedee Thu 18-Sep-08 13:12:55

My public sector employer has various flexible working options available but the formalised ones wouldn't really work for me, as a secretary I can't really work from home, the solicitors can and do, including some of the seniors. And I don't think I could face doing a compressed week, I would miss ds too much and get too tired from doing really long days.

But I have some flexibility over start and finish times, most days I take ds to childminder and dp picks up but if he can't then I can leave a bit early, I just make sure I'm at work for the appropriate amount of time (35 hours) overall. In fact, my timekeeping is much better than it was before ds, in over 6 months I've arrived after 10 am twice, and one of those was after a doctor's appointment, the other was only a minute or 2.

paddingtonbear1 Thu 18-Sep-08 13:18:17

Both mine and dh's companies have been fab, which is why we still work for them. Everything I've asked for re flexible working, I've got no problem. And we are a small IT company with only 18 employees in total! Career wise I should have gone elsewhere by now, as my skills are out of date, but hardly anywhere else would give the same working arrangement (4 day week, with 1 day homeworking). I did get offered a job with a huge international IT firm a while ago, but they made it clear they weren't keen on flexible working. I turned the job down rather than see dd go into full time childcare.
dh works full time but with 1 day from home, and if he needs to make up hours he does this from home.

ruddynorah Thu 18-Sep-08 13:24:58

yes we both did.

dh works for the police. went from 9-5 to 7-3.

i work for m&s. went from 9-5 to 5-11pm.

no problems, both workplaces very up on flexible working etc. plus i made sure that when we were planning dd i was working in nice big store that offered a wide range of shift patterns.

Botbot Thu 18-Sep-08 13:30:16

I requested very slight changes to my working day, and was successful. I start and finish early, and work 1/2 hour less than everyone else every day. I took a pay cut to do this.

The company relocated to a different part of London a few months after I returned from maternity leave, so I needed to leave 15 minutes earlier to catch my train. They were fine about cutting my lunch break to three-quarters of an hour so I could do this.

I'm lucky in that I do enjoy my job, but I do sometimes feel a bit stuck here - I'm not confident that I'd be able to do the same hours in a new job. So I'm not looking for one!

whatironing Thu 09-Oct-08 13:49:22

I requested and got flexible working.

My husband requested and got refused, his boss relented eventually but it has ruined their working relationship and he will probably end up not taking it up.

DH and I both did

I wanted to go down to 4 days a week. I was refused but then got poached by another company and part of my agreement to jump ship included 4 days a week. Now I am self employed and I work 3 or 4 days a week, one from home

DH asked and was allowed to work from home one day a week. It works v well - he starts and finishes early so he can collect dd from school

oh and he was made to do 6 months probation to ensure his hours didn't suffer (lawyer)

He gets the odd dig about it at work but he thinks fuckem

motherinferior Thu 09-Oct-08 13:53:54

My partner asked to work from 7.45 to 4pm three days a week, and his employer was fine about it. He did it for 14 months.

MI I need you on my speech thread

hannahsaunt Thu 09-Oct-08 13:58:40

I have had all my flexible working requests granted. I work at an ancient university. They are fabulous grin. I've done 4 full days, 3 full days and now do 60% FTE as 0915 - 1500h four days a week so I can do the school run.

Dh has never asked and doesn't want flexible working but I do know that friends who work within the NHS have had dreadful times being allowed to train flexibly.

Gumbo Thu 09-Oct-08 13:59:00

I asked to work from home 2 days a week, and to change my hours to be 8-4:30 instead of 9-5:30. This worked out really well - to the extent of me now working mainly from home all the time!

However, the reality of doing what I asked for really isn't as simple as I had hoped for. In actual fact I often need to be in customer meetings, and there's only so many of them that can be done via conference calls, so I sometimes have to be somewhere quite far from home for a very long day.

Swings and roundabouts I suppose - at least my company went out of their way to try to accommodate me!

Miyazaki Thu 09-Oct-08 14:01:08

My dh was turned down. Told it was for business reasons. Pointed out his female boss worked flexible hours. Was then told he should have negotiated this at the beginning of his contract (before he had children). Just got bored and gave it up...

I have flexible work hours. However, job description not changed, just hours (and therefore pay) reduced.

daysoftheweek Fri 10-Oct-08 10:13:57

I have another flexible work story, hot off the press. I work for the NHS and am trying to gain some superspecialised experience. Have been offered job asked my employer and have been told....

yes in your own time shock

I want to cry!

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