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First post! Advice please on PT/flexible working for employer stuck in dark ages

(8 Posts)
notamumyetbutoneday Mon 29-Sep-08 16:00:13

Hello! I have been lurking on here for a few weeks now and have finally plucked up the courage to post...

My husband and I hope to start a family in the next two years.

I work as Marketing Manager in a small family run company. The company is male dominated, old fashioned and requests for PT working have always been turned down- but these requests were made informally.

A (naive!) part of me wonders if my request would have more chance of success as i have a good relationship with the MD and am the only woman at management level.

My dilemma is this: do i ask my MD now whether there will ever be any chance of me working PT? or Do I leave the job I love and look for something else, only then to get preganant perhaps 18mths- a year after joining? Or wait until I get pregnant- but then that wouldnt leave me much time to look for anyhting else?

I really would appreciate some advice from others who have been in similar positions.


MarkStretch Mon 29-Sep-08 16:08:37


Do they have any policies on flexible working? Or any preparations in place for when people have children?

As far as I am aware you have a right to request flexible working hours. Is it 9 to 5?

Or would they consider a job share?

notamumyetbutoneday Mon 29-Sep-08 16:13:43

Hi and thanks for your reply. In a word- no! Theyve never really had to deal with it- in the last ten years only three women (including myself) of child bearing age have worked for them, not including temps.

One of my female colleagues has requested PT to be told no, its not a good time, ask again in XXX months...basically being fobbed off. I think this partly may be because after her daughter was born she worked FT for the first 3 years and then asked to work PT- so think that they think she will just carry on working FT if they say no. Whereas i would be adamant from the outset that PT would be for the foreseeable future.

happynappies Mon 29-Sep-08 16:17:09

Hi and welcome - I haven't exactly been in your position as I work in Further Education, where perhaps it is easier to accommodate flexible working. Part of me thinks it might be worth 'sounding out' your MD now about the general policy on flexible working/family friendly policies etc, and another part of me thinks perhaps you shouldn't say anything until you're actually on mat. leave and making a formal request. It is difficult though, because although you have a right to request, if the company have genuine business reasons why they can't meet your request, then you're a bit stuck. If you get the general impression that the company are having to face facts that people are going to make flexible working requests, and they are legally obliged to accommodate/comprise etc as much as they can, then better the devil you know, but if you get a negative response perhaps as you've got time enough to put wheels in motion you'd be better of looking for a company with a better approach to family friendly/flexible working... although frustratingly still no guarantees! I had to fight tooth and nail to get my request accepted, because basically my employer thought they could 'fob me off' because they didn't want employees working different hours. I fought them because I felt I had no choice, and just before we went to Employment Tribunal they backed down and I'm now working the hours I originally suggested, in so doing proving that it can actually work! Good luck with this - I hope your employer can be reasonable with you, its hard enough planning a family/having a family without having to grapple with this issue, so have got my fingers crossed for you.

notamumyetbutoneday Mon 29-Sep-08 16:34:43

Thanks HappyNappies- that is so impressive that you were prepared to take it all the way to a tribunal. I would like to think i would do the same as in my head it is nonsense for me to leave a job i love and am good at over this.

My husband is against me talking to my boss about it- he is worried they will think we are planning family right away which we arent, but I am a typical woman and want to know whats going to happen!

happynappies Mon 29-Sep-08 21:15:16

Employers can only say no if they have genuine business reasons for doing so - perhaps have a think about how you would like to work (e.g. how many days/which days) and how flexible you could be (for example some people have in their head that they want to work Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday when in actual fact if they were prepared to work any three days to suit the needs of the business it might be a whole lot easier to accommodate). Look at the working families and websites to find out about making a formal request, and then when the time comes you'll be as prepared as you can be to make a really good case for yourself, ready to fight if you need to. I can see the sense of not saying anything for now. Let me know if I can be any more help!! It really doesn't have to be a horrible, negative experience - if you've prepared carefully and made a really good case for changing your pattern of work and are prepared to work with your employer and be flexible/accommodating as much as you can, you might be surprised! Good luck with your plans anyway...

flowerybeanbag Tue 30-Sep-08 19:01:21

I personally think if you start talking to your boss about it now he will assume it's going to be an imminent problem, so I probably wouldn't.

Employers do have to give one of eight business reasons and explain how that reason works, but most requests that get overturned at appeal are because the procedure wasn't followed properly, or because incorrect information was used.

All a tribunal can do is force the employer to consider the request again using the correct procedure/information. They have no power to decide whether a request is reasonable or not.

The most important thing you can do to make it more likely your boss will agree to your request is be absolutely fantastic at your job and indisposable. Have a look at workingfamilies website for lots of helpful stuff.

notamumyetbutoneday Wed 01-Oct-08 08:52:58

Thank you flowery, thats really helpful and I will bear your advice in mind. In the spirit of being indispensible I should get off mumsnet and back to work!


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