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HR meeting next Friday re Return to work - advice needed

(6 Posts)
GiantUnderCrackers Thu 06-Oct-11 17:39:49

I have my HR meeting next Friday to discuss my return to work. I submitted my return to work request and flexible working request earlier than planned as the nurseries around where I live are oversubscribed, so to guarantee a space for DD in Jan/Feb or March 2012 I have had to begin my going back to work discussions now.

DD is only 4 months old at the mo. I have put together what I think is a good request which was well thought out and non emotional. I have asked for my best case scenario and have a feeling there will definitely be some discussion and adjustment around my proposal as it is the first time anyone in my role has been on maternity leave, plus I do out of normal core hour work on a regular basis. I went into work last week to introduce DD and have lunch with my colleagues. It felt weird being back - I'm not ready to go back yet, yet felt guilty for not being there.

I want to make the best of my time with DD now yet at the back of my mind keep worrying about what the scenario I'll end up with will be and how I'll cope. Can you give me any advice on how to conduct my HR meeting next week? I know I don't have to make any decisions on the spot as have to speak to DH about any of their proposals, but I want to be professional, yet I do get upset thinking of work right now. I have worked hard in my field of work, my current role is condusive to having a family so doesn't really tick all the boxes on a personal professional level, I know it won't be forever, but want to make the best of it and not feel I am taking the mickey. My boss can be an awkward so-and-so - which could make for a tricky meeting. However, my priorities have changed - as with all mothers I am sure. Sorry for rambling but as you can see I keep swinging from family to work and want to seem balanced next week. Help!

diyvspse Fri 07-Oct-11 07:11:11

How are you at negotiating? If you are returning to work earlier than the 1 year you are permitted to take, can you use that as a negotiating point & say, look, if you let me have a flex arrangement, then I think I will be able to come back sooner than 1 year?

Or have you already told them you want to come back sooner than 1 year?

GiantUnderCrackers Fri 07-Oct-11 10:43:30

I have asked to see if it is possible to return in mid Jan on a f/t basis 3 days in the office and 2 from home by dd in childcae. I have asked if it is possible to use accrued a/l 1 day a week until it expires to make it a 4 day week, so I get full pay but 4 days working. I know this is cheeky and may be rejected but I thought if I put my ideal scenario on the table then we can negotiate from there. I suspect they may say acrrued a/l may need to be taken before returning though this is not spelt out in the t&c's and it says anything else needs to be signed off at director level - can but try is my theory on that part..A lot of other staff go back around 9 months rather than 12 as that is when we get no maternity pay at all. So it won't be unusual to return pre 12 months. The issue is that noone in my role has been on maternity leave before. I manage a team and the face to face time will decrease. I put together what I think is a solid plan on how to address any adverse effects on colleagues. I am just frightened that they will insist on f/t 5 days a week in the office or close to that - can they do that?. My commute is 1.5 hours each way and if i go back full time proper I am scared I can't balance everything. Ideally a full salary would be best at home at the moment. The whole thing is quite emotional and I want to appear sane next week. Argh!

diyvspse Fri 07-Oct-11 12:55:31

You aren't being cheeky. You're trying to find a workable balance.

The difficulty here is that although they have to consider your application, they don't have to agree to it. If they don't want to be reasonable with you and insist on ft 5 days in the office for eg, then I suggest you speak with an employment lawyer about how to handle it. There are statutory timelines for giving you responses - it wouldn't hurt to read up. If they are planning to be difficult they will likely drag things out. I don't mean to alarm you - I hope it does go well, but it doesn't always.

Ultimately you have to think hard about what you think is best for your family.

I think it's beside the point that others have gone back to the office before 1 year. You are entitled to take a full year. Don't show your cards and tell them that your child has a place to start at nursery immediately or whenever.

If they did say you have to return to work FT, would you be comfortable leaving your DD in nursery FT come jan? Or would you rather look for a different nursery that would take her FT at 1 year old? That would mean you would get to spend another 6 months with her - given you say you're not feeling ready to go back to work yet... I wouldn't paint myself into a corner.

hairylights Fri 07-Oct-11 16:44:11

You aren't being cheeky. You are exercising your right to request flexible working

"I am just frightened that they will insist on f/t 5 days a week in the office or close to that - can they do that?" Yes then can, of course. You have the right to return to the same T&C's, so if you were f/t 5 days when you left, then it's your right to return to that.

I think you've done things the right way by putting in a formal Flexible Working Request.

By the way, you don't have to request to go back to work (as you say in your first line) you are entitled to go back to work.

I hope you get a good outcome.

GiantUnderCrackers Fri 07-Oct-11 16:46:39

I don't expect it to be easy and do expect to negotiate all round... anyway thanks for the advice on not showing my hand too soon! I think I'll just wait for their reaction and go from there. I just keep swinging from wanting to please work and then my family coming first. I think a happy medium does need to be reached. Has anyone had experience of their proposal being totally rejected and how did you handle that situation?

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