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Can my employer insist... ?

(35 Posts)
CalvinHobbesMum Tue 30-Jul-13 18:29:11

First I have NameChanged for this. Second, I will change some details, but hopefully it will still make sense.

I have worked at xxx for nearly 7 years. I work part-time 5 days a week. My manager wants me to change to full-time 3 days a week (still the same number of hours). The reason is we have a colleague who is on long-term sick, probably for another 6 months, we have to shuffle various people around to spread the load and he thinks this is the best way to do it.

I don't want to. Maybe I should have just said 'No' after all its none of his business what my reasons were. But stupidly I told him why I didn't want to (childcare) and he is really pushing me to re-arrange my hours.

Incidentally, there is someone else who could do what he wants more conveniently instead of me - I can't give details without outing myself -but I would feel awkward pointing that out, without making it seem like I'm being difficult and unco-operative.

He has said that after kids are 5 years old, the employer no longer has to be 'flexible' with work cover hmm This sounds like nonsense to me! (and anyway I'm not asking them to be flexible - I'm just trying to continue with my current agreed hours).

I really don't want to seem unhelpful but my boss has said he "insists" we talk about it again next week. So my question is, can he 'insist' ? DH says to just tell them 'No' ... but how to do that without everyone then thinking I'm not a 'team player' ???

To anyone who managed to wade through all of that - thank you.

RobotHamster Tue 30-Jul-13 18:31:43

When I changed my hours I got a new letter with it all in writing. Do you have something like that?

AnythingNotEverything Tue 30-Jul-13 18:35:57

Are your working conditions detailed in your contract? If your Ts&Cs say you work c hours over 5 days, I don't think they can insist.

If you wanted to offer something, could you agree todo it temporarily to cover this period during your colleague's sick leave?

It's hard to comment on why the other colleague couldn't do it. It may look like he/she could do it easier, but you never know their true circumstances.

flowery Tue 30-Jul-13 18:39:19

This isn't about them not having to be flexible- it doesn't sound as though you are asking them to be.

"Dear boss, I understand you would like me to change my contractual hours to 3 days a week. Unfortunately this will not be possible. I am happy to help in whatever way I can with regards to the current problems resulting from x long term sickness absence however I am unable to agree to this proposed change."

Something of that nature

CalvinHobbesMum Tue 30-Jul-13 20:14:45

Thanks for the replies!

RobotHamster I don't have anything in writing because I haven't agreed to it yet.

Anything you are absolutely right that I don't know my other colleagues circumstances. But by the same token, my manager doesn't know mine and he shouldn't be telling whether or not I can do it. My T&C don't specify which days I work.

flowery yes this is what I want to say to them... I just hate being seen as unco-operative/not being part of the team sad

flowery Tue 30-Jul-13 20:33:21

Well ultimately it's a case of deciding which is more important, helping out your manager or your home life/childcare issues.

There's not going to be a way of saying no without your boss being irritated and thinking you are unhelpful.

Do you have a reason to think colleagues would also feel you are not a team player? Are they all being asked to change their hours and home arrangements and doing it?

VegasIsBest Wed 31-Jul-13 08:18:33

Instead of just saying that you don't want to make this change, have you considered doing it? Presumably it's going to be difficult to cover sickness for six months, so some flexibility and support from you would be helpful.
If it will cost you more due to after school care maybe you could ask for a pay change to cover that?

CalvinHobbesMum Wed 31-Jul-13 11:04:25

vegas I think my manager would refuse the pay increase because he thinks the kids are old enough to look after themselves. (It would mean my 12yo son keeping an eye on the 10yo for a couple of hours)

I do think homelife is more of a priority than work, but at the same time I want to be helpful... confused

Rockchick1984 Wed 31-Jul-13 15:57:13

It's only you who can decide what works for your family - personally with children that age I would probably do it simply because in a lot of places I've worked there is a definite culture of "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" so if I put myself out they are willing to help when I've needed something. However that is just me, I have worked with plenty of people who won't put themselves out which is up to them. Are other people changing hours to help or does he only want you to do it?

goodgrief54 Thu 01-Aug-13 06:30:09

Can you meet him half way and say you will do 1 or 2 long days for the 6 months and have other day off?

Numberlock Thu 01-Aug-13 06:43:19

I thought you were going to say your kids were toddlers...

As a manager, your refusal to even consider my request or discuss it because you 'don't want to' wouldn't go down well but if you're adamant, stick to your guns.

And hope you don't need anything from your boss in the future.

CalvinHobbesMum Thu 01-Aug-13 14:04:04

I didn't say I wouldn't consider it, I've said I would think it over but at least for the next year until kids are slightly more mature I didn't think it would be possible. I will also be looking in to after school clubs etc.

I am happy to attend meetings, and can arrange one-off care in emergencies.

I feel like I'm being pulled in all directions. Clearly my manager, like numberlock thinks my work comes first. Meanwhile, my family think it would be neglect to leave the kids alone so much.

Whatever I decide somebody won't be happy! (and I'll get the blame for whichever choice angry )

Numberlock Thu 01-Aug-13 17:25:09

Occasionally work does have to come first although that's not what I said, it just seemed like you weren't even prepared to consider the request.

Do you have a partner?

MrsMargoLeadbetter Thu 01-Aug-13 18:08:10

I feel for your OP. I have found previously as a part-timer that employers tend to think you are able to chop and change when generally one is part-time for a reason etc.

Can you really not raise the issue of the other person helping out too? You never know why the manager has approached you, may not thought of colleague x etc?

Assuming that doesn't work and you do decide to help out. Could you then "counter offer" with staying longer on 1 or 2 days? But if having your children in clubs/looked after (which I think is reasonable) is important suggest that covering that cost is part of the deal. Asking you to change hours for their convenience is one thing, being out of pocket for it is another IMO.

I am no HR expert (flowery is) but I'd make sure that you get it in all in writing. The sick colleague might not return (am guessing) and the co might get used to you doing the new pattern of work etc.

Or as others have said, just give your apologies and say no, unfortunately not at this point.

I am guessing that having you/colleague x isn't the only solution to covering the sick colleague. Without internal options the company could in theory get a temp etc?

pointythings Thu 01-Aug-13 20:03:38

Mine are 10 and 12 and they spend a total of about 2 hours each working day at home by themselves. They get their own breakfast, finish off their lunches and take themselves off to school. Really, your DCs are old enough to manage this so I don't think the childcare argument holds water - you could do this if you wanted to.

However, if your job has always been shorter hours 5 days a week then that can't be changed without your consent. It's ultimately about what you want out of your job, and accepting the consequences of acting on that.

CalvinHobbesMum Thu 01-Aug-13 21:30:44

Gosh I'm so confused - I don't know what to do for the best!

Numberlock sorry if I was defensive, I'm just trying to figure out the right thing to do. I certainly haven't ruled it out & am trying to find a solution that suits everyone confused

DH works full time. don't get me started on that. It's the way it is...

pointythings Thu 01-Aug-13 21:36:12

OP, I think you have to assess how sensible your DCs are in terms of having them spend 2 hours by themselves. Then you have to weight that against 1) your place in the team and how you are going to get on with them if your manager makes you out to be the unhelpful one - which he might. sad and 2) the trade-off you get of two work-free days during which you can devote more time and energy to your DCs. It's a decision only you can make. You certainly should not be forced into anything.

FWIW my DDs have thrived on having independence. They do have to spread their wings some time.

Numberlock Thu 01-Aug-13 21:50:12

That's why I asked if you had a partner as you sound like a single parent from your posts. What is your husband prepared to do with regards to the childcare situation? Or is that your job?

mikkii Thu 01-Aug-13 22:00:58

Numberlock, if the family arrangements are that Calvin works part time to cover after school, and her employer wants to change her hours to cover sick leave, it may not be financially viable for her husband to alter his working hours to accommodate this. Also this would require the co-operation of his employer.

I believe that now all parents with children under 16 are entitled to request flexible working, but the requests do not have to be met.

My DH works shifts, he already does 2 school collections each week, his employer would not agree to a regular change to his working hours to do more, although on an ad hoc basis they will consider requests. So, for the school holidays he is not working Friday day time shifts, only evenings, and I leave earlier to get home for him to go to work (it's complicated along kids!)

Numberlock Fri 02-Aug-13 08:03:50

DH works full time. don't get me started on that.

mikkii Going off what the OP has said, there's some dissatisfaction with the "family arrangements".

It may well not be possible for her husband to change his hours but has he even asked or discussed it? Going off Calvin's response, I guess not. And remember this is only a temporary situation.

Reading between the lines, I imagine that this is part of her frustration.

CalvinHobbesMum Fri 02-Aug-13 11:12:26

I think you've hit it on the head, we have been happy with the way childcare is shared between DH and I up til now, but yeah basically (unless its an emergency) it is down to me. And that has been okay, its what we agreed (I accepted that my career was never going to be as much a priority as his)

But now... although I kind of agree with DH that kids are still a bit young for this - I also think he has another ulterior motive behind wanting me to tell manager 'No' - which is that he may end up having to cover more emergency care.

I am sort-of coming round to the idea, with all the ideas and suggestions from you guys. This summer we are giving the boys more freedom/responsibilities so the next few weeks are going to be interesting.

Thank you so much for all your replies. It has really helped to see things from different points of view.

ernesttheBavarian Fri 02-Aug-13 11:34:19

apart from the couple of hours kids issue, maybe working over 3 days instead of 5 might actually be better? It means you have 2 totally clear days per week. Maybe it would actually work out well.

Wereonourway Fri 02-Aug-13 11:45:02

This happened to me. I was working 3 days(24 hrs) and employer insisted I went full time to 40 hours. I just couldn't do it.

I took advice from Acas who advised that if my employer could demonstrate a business need for me to change then all they had to do was give me notice to change. Employer could have made alternate arrangements but of course they don't have to.

They more or less said my part time role was redundant. I ended up working my notice. I loved my job and miss it but employers were a nightmare. Sadly they acted well within the law so I had no option but to find alternate job with part time hours.

Hope it works out, maybe try to reach a compromise and it might not get to the point mine did, although my employer refused all compromise suggestions

Good luck

CalvinHobbesMum Sun 04-Aug-13 21:16:02

Update: we went to in-laws for Sunday lunch and got to talking about school. Everyone was saying how convenient the new school hours are because I could still pick up the boys after work. Then when I mentioned that they would need shoes which are sturdy, they looked puzzled and said well, they're not going to be walking far...

clearly everyone expects me to chauffeur them about (I didn't want to get into a row about whether they are too young so said nothing about possible changes at work) it's so hard to try and keep everyone happy! sad

Waswondering Sun 04-Aug-13 21:21:43

Nothing to add ... But why is it better for you to do 3 full days? If you stay as 5 part days then you are still in every day of the week and able to deal with things on a day to day basis ....

I realise that's not a solution!

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