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Do I really need to apply for flexible working?

(5 Posts)
GeekIsGood Tue 11-Aug-09 19:08:31

Hopefully someone who knows more about this than my HR dept and manager do can help!

I have a health problem (IBS) that often makes it difficult to leave the house early in the morning, particularly when I have to get on a bus and sit in traffic. Usually if I give it half an hour or so I'm fine, well fine enough to make the journey to work.

I had taken some time off sick when it was bad only to find that I was ok by mid morning and could have just gone in late. So I discussed this with my manager and her manager and got the ok to come in as soon as I was ready and work late to make up my hours that day. With my job it doesn't actually matter what time I come in anyway and I haven't been off sick since.

Now another manager has started questioning why I'm often 'late'. I explained the arrangement and my IBS to him and he agreed it was fine with him. However he asked for my line manager to check with HR to see if anything official needed to be done (although everyone that it could possibly affect is happy about it). So now she has asked me to fill in an application for flexible working, even though HR told her a couple of months ago that management discretion was fine. I think today she has talked HR into saying that this form was necessary as she's keen on paperwork - she's scared of being questioned about her decisions as the big boss is a bit of a bully.

I've looked at the form and it seems irrelevant to my circumstances - surely it is for a permanent shift change/change to part time/compressed hours rather than letting me come in 15 mins 'late' and work 15 mins late if I feel rough? I think she has misinterpreted the meaning of the word flexible here.

Sorry that's a bit long. I would like to know if you think I should fill this form in to make a 'permanent change to my terms and conditions', though I don't know what my new shift would be compared to my current one! Or tell them to back off on the paperwork and let me get on with my job if everyone's fine with my keeping slightly flexible hours.

MrsHappy Tue 11-Aug-09 19:23:36

"Formal" flexible working procedures were put in place by most employers to deal just with applications from carers/parents (i.e people with a statutory right to apply to work flexibly). I don't know what your employer's policy is drafted to cover, but generally speaking occasional changes in hours due to illness fall outside of these policies.

In your shoes I would probably speak to HR about formalising the arrangement in some other way. Perhaps the management could acknowledge that sometimes you need to come in a bit late but that this is ok, provided that you make up the time. Seems like a more sensible solution to me.

GeekIsGood Tue 11-Aug-09 19:39:18

Well you and I can see what the sensible solution is but my work doesn't really do sensible!

That's what I thought, that this form is designed for parents wanting to work part time or compressed hours or suchlike. They won't listen.

I think a letter setting out the arrangement signed by me and my manager would be a way to do it maybe if they really can't bear to let people use discretion. We're only talking about 20 minutes for goodness' sake! Should point out that some organisations have flexitime shock.

RibenaBerry Wed 12-Aug-09 14:19:23

MrsHappy is right. Flexible working applications are for caring responsibilities (usually children). They do not apply to variations based on health, which arguably your employer should be offering to you as a 'reasonable adjustment' anyway, since it sounds like your condition might fit the legal definition of a disability.

I would agree with explaining that you have reviewed the information and that this isn't a flexible working situation as it is health, rather than caring responsibilities, prompting the change. However, you are happy to document the arrangements in a letter.

Of course, this doesn't apply if your company has a broader flexible working policy internally, with related paperwork. Some companies do and since these can cove all sorts of things (like evening classes, travel, etc), those might be better suited to an application in your case.

GeekIsGood Wed 12-Aug-09 21:46:54

Thanks for your responses. I hunted out their (not well publicised) flexible working policy and it seems that all staff can apply for flexible working, though my manager still doesn't have a clue about it.

For the first time in the five years I've worked there I have seen mention of flexitime in this policy, so I figure if they're making me do the paperwork I may as well go the whole hog and apply for that rather than just a bit of flexibility, which I still don't think this is really suitable for. Then I don't need to worry about not being more than half an hour late if I'm particularly ill.

Works out best for everyone, I just need to convince them of that on the form!

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