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Boss is not thrilled by request for flexible working - what should I do?

(25 Posts)
Blue73 Thu 01-May-14 17:15:11

I'm returning to work full time after 10 months maternity leave. My partner is freelance so will undertake the majority of childcare. However, he does need to meet with clients and has to carry out work from home. We cannot afford to stay in London and so moving to where we can afford a home. Because he is freelance and I am on a low wage, plus my commute is two hours door to door and therefore pick up would be outside nursary hours, something we would have to pay extra for, childcare costs would seriously impact on our finances. I've asked to work from home two days per week as this means partner can book meetings and work in during the days I'm at home. It will have no impact on my colleagues or the firm I work for at all, I've checked against the guidelines and it would be difficult for my boss to use one of them to refuse me. The problem is he is a micro manager, and is against working from home, even though he is hardly in the office, because he does not like the thought that he cannot control what is happening with his employees. Has anyone had this situation and what can I do? Thank you

flowery Thu 01-May-14 18:10:25

If your partners is working or has meetings on the days you are working from home, who will be looking after your child?

Blue73 Thu 01-May-14 18:23:09

I will be looking after her, that's why I want to work from home. My work is such that I can do it around her care needs.

flowery Thu 01-May-14 18:28:31

By your description of your boss, I would think it unlikely he would be happy for you to be providing childcare while working tbh. Even if your work is almost entirely output-based, and therefore you can make up time in the evenings when your child is in bed, your boss doesn't sound as though he will be happy with that level of flexibility.

TheBookofRuth Thu 01-May-14 18:33:44

Sorry, but I'm with your boss on this. You cannot work from home and look after a small child at the same time, at least not effectively. I was an HR Manager before I had DD and this would have got a no from me for that reason - and I was very pro flexible working.

Could you ask for compressed hours instead?

FunkyBoldRibena Thu 01-May-14 18:40:16

You will be working or looking after your daughter. If you are looking after her, you can't be working. It's either/or not both. Otherwise everyone would do it!

Jinsei Thu 01-May-14 19:09:10

I'm very pro flexible working, and have done everything in my power to facilitate this for my staff, and I have a flexible arrangement of my own. However, I wouldn't authorise this - not on a regular basis, anyway. I don't think you can give your full attention to your work if you are simultaneously look after a young child.

mrscog Thu 01-May-14 19:13:27

As a manager I only authorise working from home if there is child are in place. It's impossible to get anything done with a toddler around.

Framboisier Thu 01-May-14 19:18:21

I agree with BookofRuth

I don't care how well behaved/ how many naps/how quiet etc the baby is - you simply cannot devote 100% of your time to work (as you would in the office) - at the same time as looking after your baby. you are trying to do two things, with your boss continuing to pay your salary throughout and I think your boss has every right to reject your request on this basis.

Childcare logistics are challenging and it's expensive...which is why you need a proper plan for it.

Sorry if this sounds harsh, but it is a bugbear of mine that reasonable flexible working requests get viewed suspiciously and refused on the basis that managers basically fear the above is what is going to happen.

thevelvetoverground Thu 01-May-14 19:44:23

I'm with your boss and I'm surprised it's not written in a policy that you can not care for someone while working. I would refuse this. It also sounds like you've put this suggestion forward without listing any possible benefits for the company. Are there any?

It sounds like it's perhaps time for a new job closer to home and some proper childcare.

Timeforanewname2014 Thu 01-May-14 20:22:18

Sorry but I have to agree with the majority. I work in HR and we also have it written as a condition of working from home that you have childcare in place as well. ( I introduced this as have a 3 yr old and 5 yr old and know how impossible it is to work with them around).

PrincessOfChina Thu 01-May-14 20:26:35

I think we have a policy that you can't even work from home occasionally (snow days, illness etc) with a child below the age of about eight in the house.

In reality, it happens occasionally, but certainly would not be allowed regularly as you propose.

TippiShagpile Thu 01-May-14 20:28:14

You can't "work from home" and look after a small child at the same time.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 01-May-14 20:33:38

Flexible working isn't designed to cover working from home with a child present.

Can you do longer hours 3 days per week instead?

Figster Thu 01-May-14 20:36:51

I'm surprised you think this is a reasonable request you cannot work with a small child why would your employer wilfully pay you to be less effective?

I have a 2yr old it isnt possible.

Oh and I also work in HR and would not allow this either

TequilaMockingbirdy Thu 01-May-14 20:36:51

Sorry OP I know you don't want to hear it but that's taking the piss a little bit

IDontDoIroning Thu 01-May-14 20:45:41

Looking after a child is a job. You can't work for a paying job and look after your child at the same time. Your child won't be happy spending 6hrs plus asleep or infront of the TV.
The only way this would work if you were freelance or self employed.
Sorry this is not what you want to hear but I tend to agree with your boss.

Blue73 Fri 02-May-14 09:49:54

Thank you for the messages, especially those from HR people. I totally take on board everything you say and it is most helpful for when I have my official meeting. I have to add that my partner will be doing the main childcare, it would only be the odd time that he would be away while I'm at home. But I can see now how that would be seen so we'll look into how that can be sorted out. Cheers

scarletforya Fri 02-May-14 09:55:48

I've checked against the guidelines and it would be difficult for my boss to use one of them to refuse me.

Happy days. Screw what your boss thinks. You go to work to get money not to stroke your boss's ego.

I am on a low wage

Even more reason you should push for conditions that suit you.

bronya Fri 02-May-14 10:01:33

Could you work from home on those days, but with childcare in place when your DH needs meetings etc? You'd be close enough to a nursery/CM to pick up/drop off after and before work, but would still be working a full day...

flowery Fri 02-May-14 10:08:19

"I've checked against the guidelines and it would be difficult for my boss to use one of them to refuse me."

If you were only asking to work from home, that may or may not be the case, depending on your role, although it would be unusual as the guidelines are quite broad. But the right to make a flexible working request under the appropriate legal framework doesn't extend to the right to look after your child while working, it would be for a change to hours, working location or similar. Therefore if you plan to provide childcare for your partner during working hours while being paid by your employer to work for them, your boss doesn't need to rely on those reasons to refuse you.

Depending on the nature of your work, you could request a change to working from home combined with a change to flexible hours allowing you to "clock off" when on childcare duty and make the time up elsewhere.

Jinsei Fri 02-May-14 16:02:38

OP, if your request is declined, would it be an option to use a nursery near to your place of work, so that you don't have to pay extra to cover your commuting time?

funkydiva80 Fri 02-May-14 17:27:08

I did this for two years whilst my son was at nursery. I worked from home two days a week and he attended nursery the other three days. it was hard at times and I would arrange conference calls etc around nap times. we managed it "locally" ie between my manager and I and I dont think most people even realised I was doing it - I certainly never advertised the fact. it really depends on your boss' mindset - mine was of the thinking that as long as your job got done and deadlines met then they didnt have an issue. I often logged on at night to finish things off. it was a hard time even with the flexibility but I realise how lucky I was reading these posts.

Sunnydaysablazeinhope Fri 02-May-14 17:30:48

Put it this way,

If your boss calls you suddenly and asks you a question that takes five mins to answer and look up stuff.... Where's your child?

If child was hurt during phone call (ran into table, bumped head, fell down stairs) would you blame yourself or the office?

I'm with your boss. It's an insurance nightmare. And not worth it.

Blue73 Sat 15-Nov-14 18:22:58

Hello there, I thought it would be useful to just update this as might help others in similar situation. I put my case to my boss, and I explained that my partner would be at home and would undertake the majority of looking after our child. We moved out of London two months ago and I've been working from home one day per week but it has caused so little impact on my work my boss is letting me do two days per week. Not only am I more productive but also far more happier in my job. During the days that I'm here I have my own office, and for that time my partner - even though he's also working - attends to baby's needs or goes to rhyme time! If I'm needed then I make up that time later in the day or early in the morning. I've taken conference calls, organised lots of strategy with my boss over the phone and there has never been a problem. The times my partner has had to be out of the house, I've organised my work so it is all email based in answer to the lady who thinks I'd leave my child playing on the stairs while calling a client! I guess it depends upon what work you do - but mine is very adaptable. And maybe I'm blessed with a very easy going child that is happy to sit and colour in or play building towers! I think it is worth asking for a trial period, which is what I did, because you don't know how it will work until you set on that path. I have friends in Holland, Denmark, Finland and other forward-thinking countries who all work from home with chldren in the house and their bosses do not have an issue with it. As long as the work is done and to the high standard expected, then it shouldn't be a problem.

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