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Can I be forced to work part time?

(150 Posts)
Wurkit Thu 25-Apr-19 14:20:34

Hi all

I’ve name changed for this and I’m feeling a bit upset so please don’t flame me.

I’m am returning to work in June after having dd2. I will be returning to work on the same basis as before my mat leave - working 4 compressed days. I’ve done this for quite sometime and it works reasonably well.

I was diagnosed with anxiety after my dd2 was born and I feel like it’s not getting any better or worse sad

I spoke to my work and asked them if I could work a day from home a week. They have the technology to do this and made a big fuss about it when the technology was rolled out. I do the sort of job that doesn’t require me to be in the office every single day and could easily wfh and get more done.

My work are refusing to let me work from home on a set day. When I ask why they say “they just don’t allow it” when pushed further on this they can’t give any further reason. This is an enormous organisation- not a small firm or family company. I know several teams across this UK who do the same job as me work from home regularly.

My boss said to me that I could work from home different days of the week and I spoke with him today to say that I could try and do this and he changed his story to “oh well I can’t promise you’d get it every week..”

I’m at my wit’s end. I can’t afford to work part time and I can’t afford to pay for childcare over the 5 days. My DH works away and I’m honestly feeling like I could have a breakdown over it.

It’s 2019 and I’m trying my best to get out and work and hold my own in a time when the company I work for is all about “flexibility and diversity” it’s total nonsense.

I just feel completely drained by it all. They’ve offered an occupational health referral but I’m completely terrified and anxious that they’ll force me into part time hours.

Could this happen?

SnowyAlpsandPeaks Thu 25-Apr-19 17:24:47

What else apart from no desks? You need to given them solid reasons so they think- yes this is going to be good for us.

Dishwashersaurous Thu 25-Apr-19 17:26:27

How will the wfh help address the anxiety?

Having done compressed hours they are very very long days and that in and of itself is very stressful

AmIRightOrAMeringue Thu 25-Apr-19 17:33:11


I was in a very similar position to you (not the anxiety but otherwise I could have written your post literally word for word), kind info wondering if we work for thr same company.

They didn't want to agree anything in writing as they are worried that everyone would want to do it and they would have to buy everyone a laptop etc. I think they were also worried incase a customer meeting or an important internal meeting came up and I refused to come in as it was my home working day

I just said I was fine with verbal confirmation and fine with being flexible if there were meetings etc and understood that if there were issues with colleagues on holiday or meetings I couldn't miss then I'd accept there were some weeks I wouldn't have a wfh day. It changes around but is mainly one of 2 days. Its actually working out better than I thought and I work from home one day a week most weeks which is more than they originally said.

I know every situation is different (for me it does depend a lot on who your direct manager is and how you get on with them) but thought I'd share incase it helped

Ihatemyseleffordoingthis Thu 25-Apr-19 18:05:05

Putting myself in the position of the employer:

OP is a great employee, I want to keep her and I don't want the hassle of recruitment.

If everyone adopted the same working pattern, it would be a nightmare to manage

If we agree it for her it sets a precedent for others, in fact she's referencing the precedent of xyz to make her argument

I know she won't take the piss, but others might

Other people might think she's taking the piss anyway

The culture of the workplace is that other f/t workers often work longer hours than contractually stated anyway, and the proposed working arrangement may look unfair to other team members

I might need a full-time postholder to be available to me in person, without special arrangements more than 3 days per week.

It works well in that other team but wouldn't in ours because xyz....

She has a MH condition but she won't access the things we have in place to help support her.

I don't understand how this particular solution will reduce her anxiety, actually the reverse may be true and how about other options?

TBH I think your employer is at least engaging in a dialogue with you around your request, and trying to problem solve. I'm assuming they're a good place to work and you like your boss and they value you enough to agree to the compressed hours in the first place and want to keep you?

Snausage Thu 25-Apr-19 18:11:03

OP, what you're asking for seems like a reasonable adjustment, which is a formal agreement for a set period of time. If you are able to do your job from home, it is not unreasonable to request it. They do not have to agree, but should give you a specific reason why they can't.

I would ask your line manager or HR business partner for your company's reasonable adjustment policy, and I would also put your request in writing with the reasons behind the request and how you see your WFH day going, and suggesting a way that what you do on those days can be measured.

A formal request will have to be answered formally, too, so they will have to write down the reasons for denying it. If you feel those are unreasonable, that's when you'd need to get your union rep involved/raise a grievance.

Meandmetoo Thu 25-Apr-19 18:26:32

Employers can't refuse flex working requests, which include wfh, because it will set a precedent, they have to consider each case individually.

Hannahmates Thu 25-Apr-19 18:30:04

They have already been flexible with you by allowing you to work four compressed days. You can ask for one wfh day but I don't think they are obligated to agree to that since you're already working on a more flexible schedule than most parents. Maybe they don't offer you this wfh day because they don't think you can wfh effectively.

flowery Thu 25-Apr-19 18:43:09

You’re really not far apart OP. You’ve got the hours you want, and you’ve got agreement that you can work from home, just not guaranteed every single week and not guaranteed the same day each time. Go with it, prove to them how effective you working from home is, then you should be able to build up to definitely one day every week, and if you have childcare regardless, does it matter hugely if it’s not the same day each time?

Dishwashersaurous Thu 25-Apr-19 18:45:46

Why does it matter if it’s not the same day every week ?

EggysMom Thu 25-Apr-19 18:51:29

Stop having informal discussions with your manager.

Make a formal request for the arrangement that you want. There are set guidelines to follow (and if it's a large organisation, there'll be guidance for the manager). They have to give you a reason as to why it's not compatible with the way the business operates; but they can only formalise that response after you've made a formal request.

Berthatydfil Thu 25-Apr-19 18:52:01

I wonder if the management aren’t happy with you getting a full weeks pay with 3 days in the office.

A bit more context to your job, how you interact with colleagues, task planning etc might help readers to understand both povs.

I work in an organisation that offers flexi time between 7am and 7pm and flexible working also.

Some people do work compressed hours or just long and short days within flexi time but this has caused problems in the past eg person A came in at 7 and left at 3 every day - however her main contacts/ customers etc worked 9 to 5 so she had very little to do between 7 and 9 am and colleagues then had to field calls /cover after 3. Also meetings etc were difficult to schedule before 8.30 and after 2.30 due to colleagues not being in / her being on her way home.

Obviously I realise that your working 4 longer days so the above isn’t totally similar but there MAY be the perception that in the extra hour or so at the start /end of your day that you’re in work you’re not as available to colleagues/clients as you would be if your working hours aligned with theirs.

The impact on line management of other staff you manage also needs to be assessed as it can be difficult to manage remotely or fit meetings in round differing working patterns or presence in the office.

IF this is the case I could understand they wouldn’t want to reduce that by a further day, by you working from home regularly every week.

Cbatothinkofaname Thu 25-Apr-19 19:08:16

Another point is that scheduling meetings isn’t always within the company’s control. It’s all very well to say ‘simple, Company A insists on all staff being in on Wednesdays so meetings can be scheduled then’ but what about when Company B needs a joint meeting on a Friday? Can be problematic if you’ve then got staff saying ‘but that’s my WFH day, I’m not coming in, it’s in my contract.’

I’m very pro flexible working and have over the years been involved in making arrangements for a number of people to work this way. IME people fall into one or two camps: the majority who are rational and reasonable and consider how the arrangement will work for the employer as well as for them. And a smaller group who have very specific demands - ‘don’t want to work Wednesdays’, or ‘I want three days a week, Mon- Weds but I also want the option of swapping my days if I fancy a long weekend away’ etc This latter group come at the issue totally from their own perspective of ‘what’s in it for me’ and often haven’t even begun to think about the impact on other staff or the service provided. Luckily that second group is smaller but believe me I’ve seen some ridiculous requests in my time

littlestrawby Thu 25-Apr-19 19:31:17

OP you were completely clear from your first post so don't worry about not being articulate, I'm not sure why so people have misinterpreted what you're saying.

IMO for a firm that has made a big song and dance about flexible and agile working, it's pretty poor of them to not agree to you working one day a week from home. Is there any sort of agility document or policy that was prepared when this was rolled out, that you can point towards? You should also point out to your boss that others in different offices are doing this so there is already a precedent set that should apply to you as well.

Sorry that you're struggling so much at the moment, best of luck for your return to work thanks

Catinthetwat Thu 25-Apr-19 19:40:05

I don't think they're being 'reasonable'. They legally have to consider your application and give a response.

Check the law - a quick Google should do it.

Yura Thu 25-Apr-19 19:46:01

It really depends on your job. in my role, i wouldn’t allow anybody in my team to do BOTH a compressed week AND work from home one day - getting the whole team together would be a logistical nightmare! And I need my complete team to interact closely.
In another team - where people work more in parallel than as a team - it would be fine.

havingtochangeusernameagain Thu 25-Apr-19 19:50:49

Another point is that scheduling meetings isn’t always within the company’s control. It’s all very well to say ‘simple, Company A insists on all staff being in on Wednesdays so meetings can be scheduled then’ but what about when Company B needs a joint meeting on a Friday? Can be problematic if you’ve then got staff saying ‘but that’s my WFH day, I’m not coming in, it’s in my contract.’

If they say things like that they really need to grow up. I have worked flexibly for years. In one of my jobs I worked every day but only between 8-1.30. Sometimes I attended meetings in the office that went on all day. I never said I was leaving early. Equally when I started in that job I worked Tuesday to Friday and occasionally worked on a Monday if I needed to and wouldn't have dreamed of saying no unless I had a very good reason like a medical appointment that could not be changed. If you have enough notice you can sort out childcare. Isn't that what professionals do? I really can't see that it's a reason not to allow WFH but if people are that inflexible and unprofessional you revoke the WFH and make them come into the office all the time. But you don't refuse it because they might act that way - deal with the ones who are unreasonable.

havingtochangeusernameagain Thu 25-Apr-19 19:53:35

the organisation struggles to find enough desks for everyone. It’s not unusual to turn up for work and find that you have no where to work so you’re left looking for desks on different floors and in different departments

Yes I worked somewhere like this too. That is stressful in its own way.

Yura Thu 25-Apr-19 19:54:17

For me the problem would be an employee that is only 3 days a week available for spontaneous meetings /brainstorming sessions etc. 4days i can cope, 3 not. to dial you in, i would need a meeting room - otherwise we just go somewhere like an empty corridor.

goodwinter Thu 25-Apr-19 20:43:15

OP, I WFH once a week to deal with anxiety (although I'm not on compressed hours) and my manager has been great about it, really supportive. My whole company is, overall, amazing with MH issues and it's embedded in the whole culture.

However, I work in a large company with many offices, and all of my meetings are done via Skype call. 90% of my team are in offices around the UK.

So reading some of the previous posts has given me a different perspective on this. If you work in a company where being out of office twice per week would impact on your ability to collaborate with people as part of your role, then I can see why management might be reluctant.

Puzzledandpissedoff Thu 25-Apr-19 21:27:05

* point out to your boss that others in different offices are doing this so there is already a precedent set that should apply to you as well*

I'm afraid you've misunderstood how this works, while usefully highlighting just why so many managers are wary about the process. Rather than precedent each application is handled on an individual basis, balancing business need with the employee's request, and its entirely open to the employer to refuse if there's a solid reason to do so

In many ways this reminds me of the previous "10 days off school ^for exceptional circumstances at the Headteacher's discretion^", which had to be changed when too many started to regard it as an entitlement

Schools and workplaces are very different of course, but they have in common both the entitlement and the risk of too many demands spoiling things for everyone else

desparate4sleep Thu 25-Apr-19 21:41:33

I honestly think you are overthinking this and fearing the stress that it will cause you before it happens. Try to leave it for now. Go back to your 4 days and then slowly start requesting WFH days go to an appointment and then approach with how well you work from home and how much you get done etc. I work from home and I think organisations (and specific managers) are scared of it initially but it becomes common practice. Also, having worked from home for several years I dont really know why you think this will solve your anxiety issues, sure it's a bit nicer to work in your PJs and not have the commute but youd be getting up and getting the kids to nursery anyway it will decrease your stress levels very little.

ScrewyMcScrewup Thu 25-Apr-19 21:50:28

I think you need to separate your issues here. Asking to WFH because you're a mother makes it sound like you want to have your child home that day to save on costs. Asking to WFH because of anxiety makes it sound like you can't cope with your compressed schedule.

The only relevant part of what you've said, to your employer, is that you will get more done if you can WFH. That's your business reason for the request and if they want to refuse it they will have to say why it wouldn't fit business needs.

littlestrawby Wed 01-May-19 10:30:11

I'm afraid you've misunderstood how this works, while usefully highlighting just why so many managers are wary about the process.

I would agree with you if OP hadn't said there was a big point made by the company around the options to work flexibly and from home. It seems they are not fully embracing what they preached!

maddening Wed 01-May-19 10:47:34

Why does the wfh day have to be on a set day?

Personally I think they believe that you would have the dc home with you hence not wanting to have it on a set day.

I would just go with the wfh on one day a week where poss with the actual day being different each week, let them get used to this first.

Puzzledandpissedoff Wed 01-May-19 10:54:23

It seems they are not fully embracing what they preached!

I'm not so sure, littlestrawby; the thing that stands out for me is that they've already made some concessions, and there are so many variables we can't know ... what OP's previous commitment to the place has been like among them

As said, I spent years agreeing to such requests wherever I could, from IME there comes a point where it's just one "ask" too many

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