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AIBU about this flexible working request

(92 Posts)
zeezeek Fri 06-Jan-17 09:49:19

I've had a flexible working request from someone in my team. As he's childfree it's not for any childcare responsibilities, but because he's just been appointed as Chair of Governors at a local primary school due to the fact that the school has recently had a poor (undeserved in my opinion) OfSTED inspection. As he is an experienced Governor he has been brought in to help the school's governing board improve.

To do that he will need time out of the day to attend meetings and visit the school, so has asked if he could have flexible working to allow that. He is mostly based in the office and has the sort of job that can be done from home or can catch up in the evenings - he's perfectly willing to do that as and when necessary. So I am happy to grant his request.

However, last year I had to turn down another person's request. She wanted to cut her hours so that she had a day at home with her children. I had to refuse her request due to the fact that she was working on a project that had some very tight and important deadlines coming up and her role was (still is) vital to the success of the project and there was no-one who was experienced enough in that particular field to cover her for that day. She was obviously upset and annoyed, but accepted the decision.

Now I'm concerned that if I agree to this new request I'm going to end up pissing off another valued member of staff, but don't want to turn down his request because it is completely reasonable and we can accomodate it. It is likely that in about 6 months time I might be able to allow the other one, but at the moment it is very much all hands on deck with that project.

AIBU to allow one and not the other?

HuckleberryGin Fri 06-Jan-17 09:51:30

I'm pretty sure you are allowed time out of work to be a school governor. You have to consider each request individually, not on whether it sets precedent.

elodie2000 Fri 06-Jan-17 09:52:18

Two very different situations. You can't compare or lump them together.

HuckleberryGin Fri 06-Jan-17 09:52:18

Yep, it's counted as a public duty

www.gov.uk/time-off-work-public-duties

OccasionalNachos Fri 06-Jan-17 10:04:28

You have to look at each case on its own merit. Someone I work with was not allowed to do term time hours as being out of the office over the summer holidays would have been unfeasible due to deadlines. Those deadlines were down to their specific role, as other people in our team work term time because they don't have the same tasks.

Your colleague will probably be upset, but be secure in your reasons. If she will be able to place another request when her project is over, do remind her of this. Shows a bit of goodwill.

BarbaraofSeville Fri 06-Jan-17 10:14:41

Was the first request making up the hours on other days, wanting to go part time or was she saying that she would be working from home at the same time as being with her children?

Because only the first example above is the same as the Governors request, the other two are a cut in hours or unreasonable because it is not possible to work at home effectively and look after children at the same time.

You also have the justification that demands on the business are different now.

From what you have said, it seems reasonable to have turned down the first request while allowing the second one. Maybe make the first requester aware that you may be able to accomodate her request too in the near future.

mirokarikovo Fri 06-Jan-17 10:15:39

It's perfectly reasonable to treat the 2 as separate cases. There is no reason at all why one should set a precedent for the other.

However can you think of a way to help the person whose previous request you turned down. You need a fte person in her role who has sufficient skills and experience to do a full-time workload. If you don't facilitate her having a bearable work life balance she may resign and then you will be worse off. So - could she train up another team-member to take some of the workload? Could she work compressed hours to achieve full-time work over 4 days? Does she have any less-skilled tasks that could be delegated? You don't own her and if you don't look after her then the whole team will suffer when she can't stand it any more.

WorraLiberty Fri 06-Jan-17 10:30:48

You have to allow the first one. I'm surprised you didn't know that.

WorraLiberty Fri 06-Jan-17 10:35:02

Sorry, I meant the first one listed in your OP. Not the first request from the parent.

PurpleMinionMummy Fri 06-Jan-17 10:41:46

You had good business reasons to refuse the first parent, you don't have any to refuse the second.

If you're worried just tell the first parent to apply again when the project is over.

harderandharder2breathe Fri 06-Jan-17 11:12:04

You can't refuse all requests because you had to turn down one.

You had business reasons for turning down the first request which I assume we're fully explained at the time. You have no business reason to turn down this request so it should be accepted.

Flexible working isn't just for parents and as a school governer, this mans volunteering will benefit more children than any one parent.

Alisvolatpropiis Fri 06-Jan-17 11:13:50

Yabu to lump the two together. The first didn't fit in with the needs of the business, that's bad luck. The second does, so you should allow it.

OnionKnight Fri 06-Jan-17 11:14:49

*You can't refuse all requests because you had to turn down one.

You had business reasons for turning down the first request which I assume we're fully explained at the time. You have no business reason to turn down this request so it should be accepted.

Flexible working isn't just for parents and as a school governer, this mans volunteering will benefit more children than any one parent.*

Yup, you need to treat every request individually.

DailyFail1 Fri 06-Jan-17 11:17:29

Contact your HR as it's now illegal to discriminate flexible working to just parents. A school governer is a very influential position, some develop links to local councils/MPs etc, so you would be very short sighted to reject it. Our company protects school governers & leave is always guaranteed because the company recognises the benefits that these people can provide.

Iggi999 Fri 06-Jan-17 11:17:34

I am sure that the reasons for the request are irrelevant actually. I wouldn't get in to a debate on which employee is doing the most good on their day off. You can make the request because you want an extra day to mumsnet if you want.
Agree with pp who said the employee turned down may well wish to look elsewhere if there is no sign of her hours reducing.

paddypants13 Fri 06-Jan-17 11:18:39

I agree with pp that the two requests are separate and should be treated as such. There is nothing to stop your other colleague applying for flexible working time a year after her previous application.

PigletWasPoohsFriend Fri 06-Jan-17 11:20:10

It's a public duty role I believe, therefore you have to allow time off.

justavirginwhocantdrive Fri 06-Jan-17 11:23:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WorraLiberty Fri 06-Jan-17 11:30:34

I am sure that the reasons for the request are irrelevant actually. I wouldn't get in to a debate on which employee is doing the most good on their day off. You can make the request because you want an extra day to mumsnet if you want.

No employer has a legal obligation to allow time off for Mumsnetting.

So no the reasons for the requests are not irrelevant, as the link upthread shows.

RogueStar01 Fri 06-Jan-17 11:32:20

i don't think you're doing anything wrong, but is the critical employee being well remunerated? I'd be inclined to sweeten the pill by looking at her benefits/title/bonus/vacation allowance and see if I could at the same/around the same time slightly improve her position. I think it's unfortunate (I've been there) that you can be 'good enough' to earn a reasonable amount and get flexi-working, but other people are vital and are paid a small amount more and can't get flexibility.

SapphireStrange Fri 06-Jan-17 11:42:38

it is completely reasonable and we can accomodate it.

So where's the dilemma?

And I don't agree with the suggestion above that you try to 'sweeten the pill' for the other staff member. You had good business reasons for not allowing her request, plus you may still be able to allow it in future. That's enough.

dollydaydream114 Fri 06-Jan-17 11:47:08

Most companies that offer flexible working state that employees have the right to request it, but not to have that request granted automatically.

A request to work the same hours but at different times, with no impact on the business, is very different to a request to cut hours down. One is feasible without causing any problems; the other one isn't.

SanityAssassin Fri 06-Jan-17 11:48:59

One persons request should have no bearing on anothers (if their jobs are unrelated)

myfavouritecolourispurple Fri 06-Jan-17 11:50:01

No employer has a legal obligation to allow time off for Mumsnetting

They can refuse to allow the time off, not because it's for Mumsnetting, but because they can't accommodate it.

The reason for the time off is irrelevant.

I don't know if school governors fall within the same public duties definition as say doing jury service but if you can accommodate it, why not? I was a school governor and could take up to 5 days' paid leave from one employer which was fantastic. That's another option you could explore.

shovetheholly Fri 06-Jan-17 11:50:39

Different people, different projects, different situations. Flexible working that keeps the same hours is not the same as a cut in hours.

I would, however, be meeting with the person who made the first request and letting her know you'd be prepared to review it when the project calms down in 6 months. It can't hurt to keep the lines of communication open. I'd also be looking into whether other arrangements, e.g. home working, could mitigate her situation.

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