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Family Friendly Policies a sham. What would you do?(9 Posts)
I work for a large institution which employs over 5,000 staff who, on the face of it, in their marketing and comms, are proud of their commitment to Diversity and Equality which includes their family friendly policies.
In practice I have found, to my tears and frustration, that it is the most un-family friendly place I have ever worked in.
I am a single Mum to 2DDs (2 and 6). I split up with their dad 18 months ago. Work were initially helpful and I took advantage of their counselling service and was told to take time off if I needed.
Since my split I have run the gauntlet of getting my two DDs up and ready and out of the house and dropped off at childminder/grandparent 1/grandparent 2 (a round trip of 3/4 hour) and have struggled to arrive in work before 8am in any state approaching professional. When I've arrived 10 minutes late it has been remarked on.
I went to my manager recently with a request for flexi-time which the policy says is available to be asked for and which is established in some departments but not mine. I laid out the case for it but was told that our Dept Head was stringent about these issues and that core, set hours must be worked. I should say at this point that my job involves some evening work and travel across the country which often sees me returning home post 10am. I am not expected to claim back all of this time - on the basis that not all other staff do(i.e. those without dependants). Instead I was offered half an hour leeway on the two days when it is logistically impossible for me to be at my desk by 8, as long as I make the time up on other days. Not perfect but a bit of breathing space. I asked my manager what the business reasons were for refusing flexi-time and I wasn't given any. I was warned then by my manager not to take it any further as "it would do [you] more harm than good". Hmmm.
This week DD2 had tonsillitis. She slept in my bed on Sunday night - I say slept, neither of us did. She was burning up, coughing, asking for this that and the universe and at about 5am I decided I'd be better off staying home. The policy says we have paid dependants' emergency leave and on 3 separate occasions in the past calendar year I've had to take a day off to mind one of my girls. ExOH doesn't look after them at all, but that's a different kettle of crap. I was told today that our Head of Dept has negotiated with HR that only one day a year can be taken as paid leave for these occasions and that I'd have to take Monday as unpaid or annual leave.
I am a hard worker, I haven't had a day off sick in the past year and am performing well in all aspects of my job. I just feel like I'm causing trouble trying to access the support that my employer says is there for me. What should I do?
First, print off your HR policy that states what you can have. Then contact HR and explain your situation, and that you are being given different information - I would try to pitch as 'I'd like clarification' rather than 'I'm making a formal complaint' to begin with. I'd specifically explain a couple of these scenarios, so they can apply their rules to your specific case.
Clarify the policy with HR if it differs and ask them for formal confirmation. Three days is very generous, the law states time off to make arrangements for dependants should be granted but unpaid so even if it is one day a year it's still over and above the basic right and more than lots get.
They have granted you some leeway on the fixed start but are quite within their rights to expect you to work the hours in your contract. If it was a formal flexible working request you could appeal if within the time limits but if you have already accepted a compromise option you may not be able to.
You state that your company has family friendly policies but this doesn't mean that working mothers will be treated any different from other employees, unless they request to have changes made to thier contracts of employment.
You made the choice to return to work and your employer expects you to be able to manage this without disruption.
In your last paragraph you say that you work hard and have not taken any time of sick in the last year but you have as you also state that you have had three seperate days off when your children have been sick. These three days will be on your sick record as your employer doesn't employ your children.
Regarding the flexi time that you have asked for and been refused i would take it further. Request from HR why it can be implemented and availble in other departments and not yours. Don't feel threatened by anothers comments, if you conduct the request in the correct manner there is absolutely nothing he can do.
It sounds as though the flexi time can be requested but can be refused with business reasons, so conducting the request in the correct manner won't mean it has to be agreed.
OP don't worry about your 3 days emergency dependants leave being put on your sick record, they won't be. Your sick record is just that, your sick record. Emergency dependants leave is a statutory entitlement and won't affect your sick record.
You mention that the policy says you have paid dependants leave but you HoD has negotiated only one day a year. What does the policy actually say you get?
It sounds as though you've been offered a compromise with the flexi time which is something. In a big company they can have good family friendly policies like paying for dependants leave and offering the ability to ask for flexi time, but naturally some managers are going to be more flexible than others.
Flexitime usually means there are core business hours everyone has to be in the office, but you start/leave at different times as long as you work the core hours. E.g. Core hours are 10 to 4, if you do a 7 hour day you can agree when to work the remaining 1 hour and have a break.
Did you make a formal request under the statutory right to request flex working? If so they should give you the reason for denying it.
I haven't really got any advice, but can offer sympathy.
I also work for an organisation with an apparently family friendly policy, but in reality it isn't there.
Our policy states up to 5 days bereavement leave and up to 5 days dependents leave; unfortunately my gm died and I took a days bereavement leave, then ds was ill and I took a days dependants leave; about 7 months later dd was ill and my dependents leave was turned down. When I questioned the 5 day thing in the policy they said it's up to 5 days and that's in extreme cases, and they generally only authorise 1 day - it definitely doesn't say or even imply that in the policy, but like you was told it will do me more harm than good to press them on it, as they had changed my hours in the past year and how much more did I want!!
Definitely ask for clarification from HR.
I have been in a similar situation where the spirit of the HR policy did not match the managers implementation.
I ended up leaving for a job where I could comfortably meet the demands of the role.
Completely feel your pain, I just wanted to have a grown up conversation and negotiate openly to make a situation work, they were focussed on following procedure to the letter (quite rightly, but infuriating).
Sympathies from me as well. I used to work in an organisation with supposed family friendly policies but in reality it was a bit of a farce.
I would never have been to take it further or talk to HR. HR would never have remained neutral. The department would have got rid of me in the next restructure, citing lack of income to support my post whether it was true or not.
I saw other people who were got rid of.
The thing that worried me was how to figure out if other places properly implemented their family policies especially if you didn't know anyone already there.
Luckily (?), I'm now self employed, but I've come away from my career to work in my PIL's business. It doesn't really solve the issue at a larger level!
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