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Flexible working request - making it temporary?

(11 Posts)
p2b Thu 23-Jul-09 15:59:11


I have recently submitted a flexible working request to move from a full time post to a 0.6 post. However, I am keen to preserve the right to my previous hours at some point so have requested that the arrangement be of a temporary nature. HR have come back and asked for some qualifiers to this 1) that any move back to full time be agreed by my management 2)that it be subject to a substantial notice period, i.e. the start of a new academic year. (I work for a university).

I do not feel these are necessarily unreasonable requests but the substantial notice period is a little troubling. I do not teach so the academic year thing is not really that important in terms of planning so do you think I could request a three month notice period?

I can't seem to shake the feeling that reducing my hours in the present climate is a slightly silly thing to do (although I want to spend part of the week with my young son) so am keen to preserve a full time job, especailly as both myself and my partner have received letters from our employers that redundancies are going to be made very shortly.

Any thoughts or advice gratefully received.

TheVenerableUponHighGoat Thu 23-Jul-09 16:05:03

i had to set a time limit on mine. i am reviewing it at christmas.

makes sense to have qualifiers.

RibenaBerry Thu 23-Jul-09 17:56:28

You have no legal right to a temporary flexible working request - the legislation is all for permanent requests. In terms of the flexible working legislation, therefore, I am afraid that you cannot complain about any qualifiers on a temporary request.

Although sex discrimination law (which is another way of challenging flexible working decisions) doesn't have this qualifier, I think it would be hard to argue that an employer who agreed this type of set up (when they didn't have to) was being unreasonable by wanting to put qualifiers on the request. Since the start of the academic year is probably when they want to do planning, I think it's reasonable even in a non teaching role.

Probably not what you want to hear, but actually I think you're lucky that your employer will allow for the possibility of going back up to full hours (subject to management agreement). Most don't want that hanging over them.

flowerybeanbag Thu 23-Jul-09 19:40:03

Those qualifiers sound more than reasonable to me. As Ribena says, you have no right to any kind of temporary arrangement, and I agree that for most employers having people with short term arrangements or retaining the right to change hours back would present too much of a headache to even consider.

p2b Thu 23-Jul-09 22:08:29


Thanks for your replies. I agree that my employer is being reasonable and accommodating. However, I know that in the future I will want to return to a full time position, say in 2 years time when my son starts nursery school or 3 years time when he starts school. I am aware that colleagues have returned to full time positions after having flexible working arrangements so I just want to make sure I've got as much in my agreement to support any future move back to full time.

On a related note is it possible for someone to clarify that if you are able to submit a flexible working request once a year I assume any change you request is based on the hours you have changed to i.e. in my case a 0.6 post? I wouldn't be able to request more hours under this scheme?

Thanks again

RibenaBerry Fri 24-Jul-09 07:59:44

Unfortunately, you are correct: you aren't going to be able to make a flexible working request to increase your hours.This is because a flexible working request has to be made for the purpose of caring responsibilities. A request to increase hours is made because you don't have caring responsibilities anymore, or because those have decreased. It is therefore always at the discretion of your employer whether they allow an increase and you have to bear this in mind when you make an application.

In terms of agreements with anyone else, can you subtly check out what qualifiers were put on their arrangements? However, do bear in mind that putting in the safeguards may have resulted from problems with early agreements, and there's no automatic right to have the same terms they did.


amidaiwish Fri 24-Jul-09 08:04:58

If redundancies are imminent, personally i would hold fire on reducing my hours. I may not be right, but won't the redundancy payout then be based on a multiple of your new salary, only 60% of your old?

RibenaBerry Fri 24-Jul-09 08:18:47

Yes, do bear in mind that, once you have changed your hours, that contract and pay is the one used to calculate any redundancy, etc.

NorkilyChallenged Fri 24-Jul-09 08:19:31

I'm in a similar position (including worrying that reducing hours just now might be a bad thing). I was lucky in the end that my university employers agreed to a reduction to 0.5 (2.5 days per week) on a temporary basis by temporarily seconding me to a part-time post in the same dept. This means I still "own" my full-time post and am due to return to it in 2011. Might be worth discussing whether there was anything like this available to you? Or setting a "return to full-time date" if you feel that is better than waiting for the start of the academic year? They might do it if you're definite about a date?

p2b Fri 24-Jul-09 08:40:34


Thanks for your replies and suggestions. I was hoping to hold fire on making my application until after the redundancies had been announced but unfortunately my employer has not stuck to the timetable and I have to return to work after Maternity leave and annual leave in September. I have also only enquired with the nursery for 3 days. I would need to see if they had vacancies for full-time. To be honest I've only been in my job 4 years so the redundancy payout would be minimal anyway. (The incentivised one to attract voluntary redundancy was only 2 weeks salary for every year served).

I guess there is no guarantee of getting back full-time hours really. I fear that even if my manager was to agree this could still be over ruled by HR as ultimately the university and not my manager has control of the purse strings. I just can't shake off the feeling I'm making a mistake. I am worried I will end up doing a full-time job for 3 days pay, that we won't have enough money as well as the concerns of settling my son into nursery and just not wanting to leave him at all. Argh... I guess these thoughts are usual in the run up to returning to work. You just don't know how things are going to pan out?

violethill Fri 24-Jul-09 09:53:05

Yeap that's exactly how it is p2b!!

My gut reaction is that you seem to have very reasonable and accommodating employers, and I wouldn't tie yourself up in knots trying to second guess what will happen next year, the year after etc. You just don't know.

Just think about how things are now. Are you really comfortable with reducing your hours? If not, then for the moment I would carry on full time, because the right to request flexible working doesn't go away.You could just do it later.

If you do want to cut your hours, go for it, but be aware that there are no hard and fast guarantees of what you may want to do, or be able to do, in the future.

Good luck

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