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boss not honouring our flexible working agreement and cutting my hours

(23 Posts)
Whiterosesandlilies Fri 01-Jul-16 07:45:56

Long and short of this is that my boss, and HR, agreed to a family flexible working agreement whereby my hours would be temporarily part-time when I returned from maternity leave and then revert to full time when my son started school. Others in my organisation have this arrangement. However my boss now has said that she is planning to use my current unworked hours, alongside other unused hours in the wage bill, to create additional new posts in the team. This will mean I am permanently part-time, so in effect my working hours have been cut.
This has happened in the context of a restructuring which was expected to lead to job losses but in the end so many people left voluntarily that excess hours were left in the new wage budget. When the hours of the team were added up my boss counted my hours as part-time rather than full time, which would have preserved my full time hours in the wage budget. Everyone in the new restructure team at my grade has the same job description and there is no justification for why my hours have been permanently reduced and no-one else's.
Does anyone know what my legal rights are? I desperately need to return to full time hours. My Dh has not had a job for over a year and we are thundering through our savings just to survive. I really need to return to my full time hours.

GrimmauldPlace Fri 01-Jul-16 07:51:03

When will your son be starting school?

Whatthefreakinwhatnow Fri 01-Jul-16 07:52:53

How old is your son, and how long have you worked flexible hours?

idontlikealdi Fri 01-Jul-16 07:53:07

I think unfortunately that if it is in the interest of the business then they don't have to accept family friendly working. They obviously need those hours worked in the team. Can you go back to full time now instead?

Whiterosesandlilies Fri 01-Jul-16 07:57:12

I have worked flexible hours for two years and it is two years till he starts school. I asked to revert to my full time hours early after the restructure was completed which was when it was apparent that my boss was not intending to honour our agreement at all.
Idontlikeikea, if they had said it was not in the interests of the business when I made my request two years ago that would have been fair enough. But they did agree and are now going back on this to make me permanently part-time with no justification as to why this is happening to me and not my colleagues.

Ginmakesitallok Fri 01-Jul-16 08:04:38

In my work we couldn't hold a permanent budget for part time hours for as long as 4 years.

AnchorDownDeepBreath Fri 01-Jul-16 08:09:59

Would you go back full time now, or do you need them to hold part time for another two years but have full time hours when you need them?

GrimmauldPlace Fri 01-Jul-16 08:12:25

If you're willing to go back full time now and they are refusing I think there's probably something you can do about it. But to expect them to hold open the hours for 4 years is a big ask. I appreciate they agreed to it but you speak of restructuring so I presume the needs of the business have changed since you first made that agreement.

Whiterosesandlilies Fri 01-Jul-16 08:13:19

Ginmakes, but we are not talking about your organisation, we are talking about mine. Who agreed to this. In writing. And who have other employees on this arrangement.

Whiterosesandlilies Fri 01-Jul-16 08:18:27

Anchor, I have asked to return to full time now.
Mrs Fizzy, I only asked for this arrangement because I was told by someone else on this that my employer have a policy to allow such requests where possible.
The fact that there are unexpected extra hours in the wage budget is an unplanned for bonus. The jobs my boss is planning to create I don't think can be argued to be essential to business needs as if they were they would have been created as part of the restructuring. Instead my boss has seen these as a bonus to do something 'interesting' with. But two days of these hours are my bloody hours, sitting there, available for me to return to!

SoHereItIs2016 Fri 01-Jul-16 08:24:08

OP with respect, it sounds like your organisation has undergone a lot of upheaval, possible redundancies, restructuring etc so in effect many peoples contracts/ agreements will have been terminated or changed, not just yours.

In the light of upheaval like this most companies would endeavour to make best use of heat resources they had and in this instance this seems to be to utilise unused staf hours to create new jobs.

The fact is you are not able to revert to full time for another two years and in the meantime the organisation is adapting and changing so I think it's unfair of you to expect them hold your hours for you when they may need someone to actually be working those hours.

I can see how disappointing this must be but perhaps the best approach is to get to the point where your son is actually in school and then try to negotiate an increase.

FWIW this is what I and many other Mothers I know have done and it seems to work well in most cases.

flowery Fri 01-Jul-16 08:26:21

They are honouring your flexible working terms and conditions. A desire to increase your hours to full time is not flexible working, and no one is cutting your hours.

What they have very foolishly apparently done is guarantee four years in advance that more hours will be available, allowing you to increase your hours at that point. Unbelievably stupid thing to do, because, as they have now found, lots can change in a business in four years.

In the event of a restructuring it is not at all surprising that they have realised that they can't guarantee what the situation will be in another two years' time, so actually telling you now that they can't guarantee it, rather than letting you down when the time comes is preferable, in my view.

The question is, what can you do about it? If they have given you a contract variation letter confirming that your hours will increase to full time with effect from (presumably) 1 September 2018 or similar date, then when that date approaches, and they say they won't honour it, you could make an argument that they are in breach of contract.

But I don't think there's a lot you can do now, because a lot can change in two years, and when the time comes they might be able to honour it.

I can't believe they wouldn't at least put some kind of caveat into an agreement like that, about needs of the business changing or something. Ridiculous thing to do.

Whiterosesandlilies Fri 01-Jul-16 08:32:15

Sohereis, I am not asking them to hold the hours, I am asking to use the hours that are there in the budget.
Flowery, if they said, we will give you your hours when ds starts school as agreed I would feel I had to accept it. But that isn't what is happening. Boss is planning to permanently reduce hours.
This isn't a cas of business needs as I stated above. It is opportunism. these aren't essential posts being created.

Whiterosesandlilies Fri 01-Jul-16 08:35:06

And Flowery, they are cutting my hours. My substantive post is full time and the hours are sitting there in the budget.

flowery Fri 01-Jul-16 08:38:51

They are not cutting your hours. Your hours are currently part time. What they are doing is no longer guaranteeing that you will be able to increase your hours.

Their budgeting arrangements and headcount planning systems are not your contractual hours. Your current contractual hours are your part time ones, and the issue is whether or not they will be able to honour a foolish agreement made four years in advance that you will be allowed to increase your hours again, and if they have done so, and if they don't honour it when the time comes, what if anything you will be able to do about it.

fastdaytears Fri 01-Jul-16 08:39:01

They're not cutting your hours though are they as it won't be lower than you're on now.

If you have a formal agreement to having your full time hours kept for you for four years then you could try to fight it, but honestly I'd be pretty worried about working long term for an organisation that thinks that makes business sense.

flowery Fri 01-Jul-16 08:44:45

"This isn't a case of business needs as I stated above. It is opportunism. these aren't essential posts being created"

But you don't get to decide that. You don't get to decide what the needs of the business are either now or in two years' time. If there are hours available in the budget, clearly it makes more business sense to use them for something which will add some value (in the opinion of those making the decisions) than to not do so.

user1465823522 Fri 01-Jul-16 09:43:16

In my experience this is difficult to handle - when I had employees reduce to part time I still had to fill those working hours - usually by hiring someone else or extending overtime to other staff to cover it.

You said you had an agreement to return part time at the start, which is all fine, but then you say that you have been part time for 2 1/2 years. While I totally support flexible working, this is taking the piss about to be honest - you can't seriously expect your employer to indefinitely hold those hours for you on the off chance that you might eventually go back to full time?

I agree with flowery who pretty much summed up everything.

user1465823522 Fri 01-Jul-16 09:57:19

also, if your hubby hasn't worked for a year then why haven't you gone back full time before now?

Whatthefreakinwhatnow Fri 01-Jul-16 10:07:43

Listen to flowery, she's the expert on all things HR and has it spot on. I honestly can't imagine any organisation agreeing to hold hpurs for 4 years! How ridiculous!

CrazyDuchess Fri 01-Jul-16 16:55:57

So do you have the opportunity to go full time now?? And place your youngest in childcare??

DragonMamma Fri 01-Jul-16 18:49:39

I absolutely agree with everything Flowery said too.

Temporarily? You've been doing them for 2 years already with an initially planned another 2.5yrs to go!

As flowery said, unless you have it in writing that you'll do reduced hours until 2018, when you'll revert to full time (which would be madness on their part) then they aren't 'your' hours that they are using to create new jobs,your part time hours are your hours.

CountryLovingGirl Fri 01-Jul-16 21:30:56

There is no way that would be allowed where I work (NHS). Once you go part time that is it until hours become available for an increase. I have just returned full time after 11 years of working PT. Some of my colleagues have done the same as there is always someone leaving or someone else wanting to go part time so hours are created.
My manager would have a nervous breakdown if we had asked for that.

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