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parental leave, flexible working

(57 Posts)
talky Mon 10-Sep-07 23:03:53

Feeling desperate and need support. Am due back from mat leave next month.I have made a formal request for flexible working and unpaid parental leave.My boss was unresonable with me whilst I was pregnant and I'm afraid that i'm being treted unfairly again.
I thought your employer could not refuse 4 weeks per child unpaid prental leave, if takken after mat leave and before the child's 5th bday. she has asked me to come in for a meeting with her manager and HR because she has concerbs about my request for the leave and flexible working.
I work for the NHS and wish to drop 3 hours a week and doubt that there can be a truely valid reson to refuse my request but my boss seems ignorant of the law. worryingly' HR also don't seem to be aware of the legal timescales and procedures.
I'm really worried about this and need any words of wisdom.

TheDuchess Mon 10-Sep-07 23:09:49

Have you put together a business case to support your flexible working application? I'd suggest that you do that. I would not consider giving other people work as a good argument for example.

I'm pretty sure the NHS have a flexible working policy. Get hold of it, put together your case and quote their policy at them. Are you in the union?

Would 3 hours make much difference?

flowerybeanbag Tue 11-Sep-07 08:10:43

Your employer can't refuse your parental leave but they can postpone it for up to 6 months if there is good business reason why it would be detrimental to the business if you were on parental leave on the dates you have requested.
Just because your boss has concerns about your parental leave and flexible working doesn't mean she is planning to refuse them both, so don't assume the worst. Is her wanting to meet with you because she has concerns the only reason you think you are being treated unfairly? Because there is nothing unfair about that. If someone puts in a request for flexible working it would be perfectly normal and is also a legal requirement to meet the employee to discuss it.
Duchess is right, if you work for the NHS there will be a comprehensive flexible working policy I imagine, and one about parental leave as well I expect. What makes you think HR are not aware of the legal timescales and procedures? As far as I am aware, NHS and other public sector employers tend to be more procedure-driven than other sectors, so I would expect the policies which are relevant to you contain detail about the procedure which should be followed.
Make sure you get hold of the relevant policies if you haven't already, read them carefully and follow them to the letter. Don't panic and assume the worst yet, make sure you build a good case why you should be allowed to work flexibly (i.e., explain the business benefits of you doing so, why your department and your work will benefit from it, not why it is convenient for you..), following the procedures available to you, remain calm, in control and give the impression of someone who has a lot to offer, is committed to her job and the work of her department and will be an increased asset to the department as a result of a successful flexible working application.

With the parental leave, they do have to explain why it would be detrimental to the business for you to be on leave at the times you request if they want to postpone it, so make sure they do that if they do postpone it.

And good luck

talky Tue 11-Sep-07 08:13:18

thanks. 3 hours less would mean that I could go from 3 to 2 days, which would be great as I have a 4 and 10 month old.
Have asked a union rep to come to meeting, altho HR said I didn't to (!)
Finding it hard to set a date for the meeting as now 5 people need to attend. Am due back next month. I think they will draw it all out.
Does anyone know more about parental leave? I've read everythimg I can lay my hands on and it seems they can't turn me down after mat leave. But they have said there's a problem with it.
I hate confrontation. I find it gard to counter argue a bussiess case if they have objections.
really appreciate any thoughts as it helps with my resolve.

talky Tue 11-Sep-07 08:13:58

sorry. mean 4 year old.

BecauseImWorthIt Tue 11-Sep-07 08:17:35

Don't assume confrontation! It is not unreasonable for your employers to want to discuss your requests - they have to sort out their resources as well.

Put yourself in your shoes and imagine if one of your key workers had made this request. Aside from the legal issues there will probably be all sorts of other things that they are having to think about if they grant your request.

Then put together your case in the most objective way you can.

BecauseImWorthIt Tue 11-Sep-07 08:17:59

Whoops - put yourself in their shoes!

talky Tue 11-Sep-07 08:21:35

thank you. I have read all the policies ans ACAS stuff. I beleive that my employer needs to inform me in writing of the reason within 7 days. We have passed that deadline a good while ago. I would have thought that procedure and timeline would have been fairly basic. Like you, I assume public sector to be on the ball. I was abit shocked.

flowerybeanbag Tue 11-Sep-07 08:22:46

where does it say they 'can't' turn you down after mat leave talky??!

They can postpone it as I say, for up to 6 months, if they can explain that your absence at the time you request is unduly disruptive to the business, for example if it's a particularly busy time of year for you, or similar.

here is the proper detailed guide to parental leave if you want to know more. As you will see it states that parental leave can be taken after maternity leave. It doesn't say that the normal reasons that an employer can postpone it do not apply in that instance though...
The specific relevant quote is as follows, as it's quite a long document for you to trawl through -

'Women who have given birth are entitled to maternity leave after the birth of their child. Whether they are able to take parental leave immediately after maternity leave would be subject to the normal arrangements for postponement and would depend on whether their absence would unduly disrupt the business (see 4.3 above).'

talky Tue 11-Sep-07 08:51:25

Thanks again. I beleive there is a good business case for my suggested working pattern. I've tried to work my child care arrangements to fit what I thought would be reasonable for work.
My employer did not stay in touch with me over mat leave despite my asking to be updated on on 2 key work place changes. This makes it more difficult for me to put myself in their shoes. I visited, but had to wait 4 months until there was a convenint time (for them) for me to come in. I telephoned for more info on the changes but was pretty much fobbed off. I know I should of been more assertive at that point. I've tried to keep myself up to date through social contact with co workers.
Does anyone have experience of having a union rep in this type of meeting? What to expect of them?

flowerybeanbag Tue 11-Sep-07 08:54:54

Talky I am slightly concerned how you are interpreting the information you are finding. I have quoted directly from ACAS website about flexible working applications below -

"How must the employer respond to the applicant?

In order to comply with the procedural requirements the employer must:

arrange a meeting with the employee within 28 days of receiving the application to discuss the request. This meeting is not required if the employer agrees to the terms of the application and notifies the employee accordingly within 28 days of receiving the application

allow the employee to be accompanied by a work colleague if they so wish

notify the employee of their decision within 14 days of the date of the meeting. This notification will either:

– accept the request and establish a start date and any other action or
– confirm a compromise agreed at the meeting, or
– reject the request and set out clear business reasons for the rejection together with notification of the appeals process

arrange to hear the employee's appeal within 14 days of being informed of the employee's decision to appeal. The employee must be allowed to be accompanied by a work colleague if they so wish

notify the employee of the decision on the appeal within 14 days after the date of the meeting. The notification will either:

– uphold the appeal, specify the agreed variation and start date or
– dismiss the appeal, state the grounds for the decision and contain a sufficient explanation of the refusal."

As you can see, as I mentioned before, it is a legal requirement to meet to discuss an application and the meeting has to be arranged within 28 days of receiving the application. They then have to notify you of the decision within 14 days and give you the right to appeal it. Nowhere does it say they have to inform you in writing in 7 days.

talky Tue 11-Sep-07 16:06:30

Thanks Flowerbeanbag.Sorry, I meant that the employer has 7 days to respond in wrtiting if they need to postpone your request for unpaid parenral leave. they have not done this, but have told me that there is a problem with my unpaid parental leave. I asked for elaboration and was told to wait for the meeting.
I know this probably sounds like nothing, but infact it could result in my child care arrangements falling apart. Especially as there has been a month's delay in the responce.
And then I still need to argue a business case for a reduction in hours. They've told me there are problems with that too. I realise that on this one they have followed procedure.
Yep, I'm expecting confrontation. i hope I'm wrong. I'm trying my best buy don't feel full of confidence.

flowerybeanbag Tue 11-Sep-07 16:20:53

Oh I see, sorry, misunderstood you, in which case you are absolutely right, and that's not on. I would be inclined to email your boss copying in HR drawing their attention to their legal obligation to respond in writing within 7 days if they wish to postpone your parental leave.

As far as the business case for your flexible working is concerned, this is very handy. Try not to assume confrontation, I know it's hard, remain calm throughout. If they refuse the flexible working you have the right to appeal so don't get drawn in if it becomes an argument, in that case go away, and exercise your right to appeal.
Good luck

talky Tue 11-Sep-07 16:59:41

really kind of you to give these links and advice.
great stuff.
good luck to anyone else out there.
it's an emotuinal time, so the suppport is appreciated.

talky Tue 11-Sep-07 20:28:33

Flowery, if you still there?
Do you think it is a good idea to try asking HR what the sticking points are? So that I can think about it before the meeting? I asked my boss one direct question relating to the unpaid leave and she refused to answwer me.
As said earlier, my boss hasn't kept me updated whilst I've been off, actually saying that I didin't need to know about some basic service changes.
So some prior info to the meeting would help me to see things from their viewpoint.

flowerybeanbag Tue 11-Sep-07 20:36:57


Yes do ask about what the sticking points are so that you can prepare yourself properly, research it, come up with excellent ways to resolve their perceived difficulties, etc

I don't know whether they will give you any indication or not - if you are on friendly terms with anyone in HR and have a chat with them that might do it.

If not, you could have a think about what their objections are likely to be. If you literally would only be doing 3 hours less a week that's not a lot of difference. Are there 3 hours worth of tasks that don't need to be done, could be done more efficiently? Would your responsibilities remain the same, in which case how would you manage to cut down those 3 hours a week with no detriment to anyone else.
Just some things to think about. That link has some great stuff on what the benefits are of flexible working, so list as many of them as possible that could apply to you.

talky Tue 11-Sep-07 20:47:58

Is there a nice way of saying that I've been left out of the loop whilst on mat leave? I don't want to come across as not taking account of service changes.
3 hours isn't much, I agree.But it does mean that i drop a day. But am suggesting an arrangement that will mean I can come in on days/times I don't usualy work to do a session if the service needs it.
I don't know where the problem/s could lie and that's making it hard.
Your links are really good, thanks again.

flowerybeanbag Tue 11-Sep-07 21:02:32

You could say that you are aware that there have been some key changes at work which may affect you and your application, which you have not been formally notified of. You have made some attempt to update yourself over the phone and through colleagues but it would assist your application if you could have more informative details about these changes prior to your meeting.

It sounds as though you have thought of some of the potential problems and solutions for them already though.

talky Tue 11-Sep-07 21:15:43

Thanks so much. That helps. Is it valid to go on about increased productivity due to better work/life balance? Your link cites this. I always wonder if that is really a business reason as being happy etc is my own responsibilty if you know what I mean.
I think my strongest case should be that i can offer the service cover at busy times and also that by stating half hour earlier, can be more productive by using office when less busy as we hot desk in open plan. I hope that weighs well against the disadvantage of loosing a set day a week.

flowerybeanbag Tue 11-Sep-07 21:21:16

Well yes your happiness is your own responsibility I guess, but having a good work life balance isn't just about making you happy, it will genuinely make you more productive. I wouldn't rely just on that one though. Add it in, but there are plenty of others and you have already been thinking about what their potential objections might be which is great.

talky Wed 12-Sep-07 10:44:24

Flower, wee up date.
spoke to HR. They repeat the same line that they refuse to talk to me before the meeting about sticking points for flexible working or reqest fr unpaid parental leave.
i think i was professional and freinndly but had to say that they seemed to have missed 7 day rule on the leave.
they seemed annoyed at me and then reluctantly said that i was going to be granted it, but that there are still issues about it which need to be discussed at the meeting.
i'm confused by this approach.
feels intimidating.
do you have any clue what could be going on for them?
thanks a mill,

talky Wed 12-Sep-07 10:45:49

they insisted that there issues re the unpaid leave still, i mean.
baby on lap, not good typing.

talky Wed 12-Sep-07 10:56:53

I fear they mean that i will be less entitled to flexible working reqest due to prental leave.
i thought they had to prove a valid business reason, from the 7 ones in your link.
Parental leave per se does not is not a reason.
Of course, they may argue that my leave puts pressure on the service.But then, i am entitled to take it within 6 months anyway, so .. i keep going in circles.
7 weeks added onto a year does mean there is back log. even tho i know they've had a replacement.How i can argue that?

talky Wed 12-Sep-07 11:07:07

also, how do you politely correct hr on law?

flowerybeanbag Wed 12-Sep-07 12:35:38

Parental leave should have no bearing at all on a flexible working application, and as you say, even if they wanted to postpone it for 6 months, the effect of it would only come later anyway.
I would guess they are saying there are issues around your parental leave because they are fed up that they missed the deadline for postponing it and have had you pointing it out to them. They are cross and embarrassed about this and therefore will be saying stuff about how work will be covered etc. Nothing to worry about though.
Flexible working application is completely separate as I say. If possible I would be inclined to ask for them to be covered in separate meetings to avoid any confusion. You are entitled in law to a meeting to discuss your flexible working application, but I think it's reasonable and probably a good idea for you to insist that if there are things they wish to discuss with you around your parental leave, they should do so outside your flexible working meeting.
Your parental leave has been granted by default because they didn't respond - that's their problem not yours, so any 'issues' can only be to do with covering your work etc, and therefore should and could be covered between you and your line manager, not involving a formal meeting with HR.
Sorry I'm not following you about 7 weeks added on to a year...?

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