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HR issues regarding flexible working.

(4 Posts)
bippetyboppityboo Wed 07-Sep-11 12:13:38

HI there,

I really hope I can get some advice from those of you who have a lot more HR knowledge than me! It's a long one so bear with me...

I currently work part time School hours over four days for a small business. I started not long after the business had been set up and apart from the Director am the longest serving member of staff having worked here for over three years. The business has real issue with keeping staff, partly due to the nature of the business but mostly because of the MD, his attitude and the general atmosphere within the office. Turnover is 45% and staff retention is 36%.

My personal situation has changed immensly since I started with the company and I am now a single parent. For this reason alone is the main reason for staying with the company for job security.

For the past couple of years I have been training to do a career that I have always wanted to do and finally qualified last summer and set up my own small business which means I mostly work weekends but is in no way possible for this to become my main job role yet as there are a lot of start up costs and I am ploughing all the money back into the business to break even in its first year.

I feel that I am juggling to keep all the balls in the air with working, setting up my business and looking after my children (we live in a very rural area so no after School/breakfast clubs and one childminder locally who has a waiting list as long as her arm) so need the school hours and cannot rely on the father for any support, my parents are past retirement age and whilst an immense support I understand they are getting older and small children tire them out quickly!... I feel I'm waffling now.

So, November 2010 I emailed my boss (the MD) and asked for a three day week, this was ignored. I re-sent the email in December 2010 and tried many times to have a meeting with my boss about reducing my hours. He was always too busy and never wanted to engage in discussing it with me. I then had my end of year review in March 2011 (first in two years of which I was told I was going a really good job, he had no issues with my performance - but I've still not received any paperwork confirming this albeit requesting it twice) I brought the matter up then to which he acted shocked at and said that he wanted me to work full time and not part time going forward as the department needs full time hours as the business has grown soo much since I started three years ago (turnover doubled). He said he only wanted someone full time in the department and did not want to employ another part timer as they had commitments outside of work which meant they were not committed to the business! He said he would however look into reducing my hours for me and let me know how he got on.

Cue another two month wait and we get to May when I finally get another meeting with him after sending two emails chasing on what was going to happen. He had a meeting with me and told me he was still looking into it and would let me know as soon as he had a plan. By this point I was feeling extremely frustrated that seven months after my initial request I was no further forward. Its a small company (15 staff) that change a lot and I feel like I have lost a lot of confidence in my abilities and work persona due to my boss's management of us all and general lack of praise/reviews.

A few days after this meeting I decide to put in a formal request for flexible working and he emails me to state that we would be having a meeting with a note taker the next day to discuss my request (which as I understand is the next step in the process). We have this meeting and he tells me he doesn't like part timers as they are difficult to manage, not commited to the business and that he doesn't want to employ another part time to essentially job share my role with me/work in my department even though he accepts that the work load is currently too much for the hours that I work. I challenged this and asked if he was referring to myself as had only had a very good review earlier that year and told that there were no issues with my work to which he states that it is not me he is referrring to but other part timers he has worked with in his past. The meeting concludes, I don't get to read the notes or sign to state that they are accurant and I don't get a copy of them. I then request a copy of these notes and don't get a reply. Cue SEVEN weeks later I finally get an email over the weekend to my personal and work address with a letter attached denying my request for flexible working. His reasons were as follows:

* He has looked into employing additional personnel and spoken to agencies and found this not to be fruitful or found anyone with the skill set neccessary.

* He does not want to pay external contractors on an ad-hoc basis.

I would like to mention that I do the accounts, have basic book keeping training and was recruited via a newpaper advert - not rocket science. We have never used an agency for any previous recruitment and it seems strange that this is the route he has chosen to follow regarding my request.

I also get an attachment of the notes which are bullet pointed and very brief and nothing detailing our conversation regarding part time workers just that he 'voiced concerns over part time employees'.

So, I'm pretty much back to square one, he's broken the terms of flexible working application but I really don't know what to do next. I feel like I have little fight in me right now as am at the end of a pretty messy divorce that seems to going on forever and have lost all enthusiam for my current job role and employer.

Does anyone have any advice what to do next, bar looking for another job - which I think may be my only option currently?

Thanks soo much for reading this far, I know it's a pretty epic post but I feel better for getting it out there and asking for advice as I feel like crying most mornings that I come into work due to my boss and his attitude to me as a result of this request.

StillSquiffy Wed 07-Sep-11 14:26:53

OK, so he's not following legal process; that is easy to establish.

The more important thing is to determine what you want to get out of this. There are a limited number of options:-
1) find another job and leave. This is the least stressful option though you then carry the anger with you for a long time.
2) carry on as you have been. Probably not an option in practice
3) Get a solicitor to send him a letter pointing out that he has been potentially discriminating against you on the grounds of gender by not complying with current legal requirements with regard to flexible working. This then leads to (a) he backs down, gives you 3 days a week and realises the error of his ways; (b) he backs down, gives you 3 days and makes your life even more hell, or (c) he erupts and tells you to go to hell in a handcart.
4) If (b) or (c) happen, you could potentially take him to a tribunal, which would mean lots of stress and probably also mean that you will need to leave and find a new job anyway. Is that an option you are willing to pursue?

If this were a large organisation you would have more (and less stressful) options available on the table, but you are in a family business where legal niceties do get overlooked to the detriment of employees. It sucks and it shouldn't happen, but you need to decide what you want to get out of it before taking your next move.

Sympanthies, by the way, it sounds horrible.

louby86 Wed 07-Sep-11 14:53:00


Sorry you're having such a hard time. Have you given acas a call? They'll be able to tell you in more details the legalities of what to do next. In my experience because it has gone on so long you can just take your employer to an ET if that's the way you want to go. I work for a multi-national company in HR so I'm aware that some of our policies go further than what the law states to ensure that we are protecting ourselves as much as possible but when I have meetings with staff about flexible working requests I am not allowed to refuse it unless I can prove that it would be detrimental to the business. Those requesting flexible working options also need to put a business case forward of how it will benefit the employer if the request is not agreed informally. It might be a good idea for you to list all the pro's around flexible working, eg less cover to find when you're on holiday, if you work part time as a job share you would cover for each other, working over other people's lunch breaks etc if you're starting later compared to others. All of this will also help if you decide to take it further. Hope this helps

laracroft2001 Wed 07-Sep-11 16:34:05

normally an employer has 28 days to respond to a flexible working request. They have to consider your needs, and if the business can reasonably accommodate your request, they have to. Def call ACAS and make sure you keep a record of all your emails sent and received about the matter x

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