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Flexible working is a joke

(34 Posts)
amethyst123 Fri 15-May-09 11:15:21

I have just been told that my application for flexible working has been turned down unless i change jobs, in order to have my old job back when my maternity leave ends i must return full time which isent possible for me to do now, the new job is nothing like my old one in fact it has been advertised on the work notice board for the best part of three years as noone wants to do it, i have said i dont want the job and i was told i should hand in my notice.
So what is the point in flexible working if they can just turn around and say no we dont have anyone to cover you!!!
I have made suggestions that would help i.e the girl who is covering me while i am on maternity leave could help out in my absence and i have asked for a trial run of three months to see if any problems arise and have been told flat out no.
I am going back four days a week out of five and asking to start an hour and a half later then normal in the mornings when we are quiet so i dont think i am being un reasonable with my hours, bacically they are using me to fill a position they cant fill and giving my job the girl who is covering my maternity leave.
I being punished for having a baby how fair is that???

RibenaBerry Fri 15-May-09 11:47:03


I know it's hard. Your employer can turn down your request if they have valid business reasons, but not otherwise.

It isn't really clear from your post whether you agree that your job does need to be covered in the hour and a half each day and one day a week when you wouldn't be there. It sounds like you probably do from your reference to your maternity cover. Who is she? Was she recruited just to cover your leave or is she someone who already worked for the company and took on your tasks as extra duties on top of her own? Assuming the former, do you know whether she would be willing to cover these hours? It would make for a pretty odd working week, and most people won't want to work four 90 minute shifts, because of the disproportionate effect of travel time. If you think you only need cover for the full day, do you know whether she would be willing to cover? Again, it's quite hard to recruit someone for a one day a week position.

If you think that the decision is unfair, you need to put in an appeal, detailing why you think that your employer's reason for turning you down in unfair.


amethyst123 Fri 15-May-09 12:09:51

No i dont feel my job needs to be covered in the hour and a half i will be not be there in the mornings as it is quiet and i would easily be able to catch up when i come in and obviously do the must important jobs first plus there are other people available who cover my holidays and sick days ect.
As for the day off i choose the company is only open for three and a half hours as they close early on a Friday, my cover already worked for the company in a different dept and she applied to cover for me, she wouldnt mind covering for me if she had to but she would also like the job perminatly as she enjoys it as much as i do, her old job was never filled so she could return after my maternity leave was over they shared her job out between other co workers, I have been told that there is no point in appealing as they have used a valid reason (dont have anyone to cover)

violethill Fri 15-May-09 19:40:16

It's difficult to comment without knowing all the details, but presumably if your job runs for 1 and a half hours earlier in the morning, there's a reason for that! It may well be a quieter time, but believe me, if it wasn't worth employing someone to be there, why on earth would any employer be paying someone to do it?!!

The danger of wanting to apply for flexible working is that people can start trying to re-write the job from their own pov, as the employee, rather than the employer. Even on a subconscious level. You have decided that you want to start work an hour and a half later - and you're trying to justify that by saying you're not really needed etc... I can't help thinking if that was the case, your employer would have cut your hours before you decided you wanted to! IME employers don't just throw money at people for doing jobs they don't need!

Northernlurker Fri 15-May-09 19:57:20

Covering one day a week and 1 1/2 hours for another four days would be very hard for your employer and as others have said you can't really expect them to turn round and say 'oooh you're right everybody slacks off for the first hour and a half so what the hell' You aren't being punished for having a baby - you're just not getting to design your work to suit you alone. What about working 2.5 or 3 days at the full range of hours? Is that possible for you - it would be easier for them to cover because what's left is a 'proper' job iyswim. Or could you offer to do 5 mornings?

flowerybeanbag Sat 16-May-09 15:53:55

The 'point' of flexible working is to try to reach an agreement that allows the employee some flexibility, while still meeting the employer's needs. Not to allow you to do the exact hours and working arrangements you personally want.

I think it's likely to be perfectly reasonable of your employer to turn down your exact request for the reasons mentioned by others. No one is 'punishing' you for having a baby, but it's all about give and take. You are in the fortunate position that your employer is actually able to offer you an alternative job, which many aren't. Ok, you don't want that job, but it is an option.

I would suggest offering one or more of the compromises suggested by NorthernLurker.

amethyst123 Sat 16-May-09 16:29:27

The hours i choose were because they were best suited to the company and worked well around my job, originally i wanted to do three days a week which meant i could do a job share for the other two days and was told no, so i choose the new hours to suit them better, i have tried to reach an agreement and made some really good suggestions which i know could work and still been told no so basically the company i work for is not interested in 'flexible working' hours for mums they would rather you resign so they can employ full time staff unless in my case they have a vacancy they cant fill,
The point i am trying to make is you now have the right to apply for flexible working hours when you become a mum (which sounds great) but your workplace also have the right to say no and use a legitimate excuse.

ilovemydogandMrObama Sat 16-May-09 16:36:09

I know what you mean -- it's ridiculous: the right to be able to ask? hmm It's like saying, you have the right to ask for a million pounds. Doesn't mean we'll give it to you, but you have the right to ask? smile

Is the other job they are offering really awful? Could you do it as a stop gap until you find something else?

amethyst123 Sat 16-May-09 16:48:33

I think i will have to except the job as my dd has already started her trial days at nursery but carry on looking for a new job that works around the nursery hours shame that the recestion hit while i was on maternity leave and theres not much out there at the mo,
Yes the new job is awful its one off those jobs noone wants to do.

wondergirl99 Sat 16-May-09 16:53:48

I totally agree with amethyst i was forced to resign from my job when my maternity leave ended as my work would not let me do flexible working hours i explored every avenue with them and every time was a no even before i was pregnant i was allowed to work from home occasionaly but after applying for flex hours i was told i was no longer allowed to,
So i agree flexible working is a joke at some companys you have the right to apply but what use is it if they have the right to say no.

flowerybeanbag Sat 16-May-09 21:10:09

It's not just the right to ask. It's the right to ask and to have the request seriously considered and only refused if there are business reasons for doing so.

I agree that it can sometimes seem like a bit of a 'right' without any teeth, but I'm not sure any stronger right could be brought in anyway? I mean, clearly it would be completely unworkable for an employee to have the right to demand any flexible working arrangement they want.

Obviously it must be possible for an employer to turn a request down, as sometimes it really isn't possible, and sometimes people want arrangements that are unworkable. Obviously the fact that an employer can refuse the request means that some request that might actually be possible don't get agreed, but at least with the right as it is, lots of people do get arrangements that suit them, and at least employers are forced to address the issue of flexible working to a degree.

wondergirl99 Sun 17-May-09 12:25:51

It would be very interesting to find out what percentage of mums have been able to do flex work hours since the law was bought in and what percentage of mums like me were forced to resign because no amount of compromise could ever be meet, i have a feeling the latter would be an overhaul higher percentage angry

amethyst123 Sun 17-May-09 12:33:43

I agree wondergirl

Kiwinyc Sun 17-May-09 16:47:25

wondergirl99 - i'm not sure sure about that. I got the flexihours I want after maternity leave and I know many others that have also benefitted. I feel very fortunate to live in the UK because the right we have to ask for flexi hours is not available in many of the other countries I've lived and worked - the USA, Australia and NZ.

I agree that many companies can be uncooperative but that its up to you to make a case to show that the impact of flexible hours will not be detrimental to your performance of the role you're paid to do. And offer strategies to ensure that any of their concerns can be addressed. If there was truly no compromise that could be found then you probably do need to look at a different sort of job.

violethill Sun 17-May-09 18:51:44

I tend to agree with kiwi.

Of the people I know who have requested it, I would say about two thirds have got flexible working and one third haven't. And as kiwi says, the people who really go into it thinking logically about how they can flex their hours without it having a detrimental impact are the ones who are successful in getting a compromise. The people I know who've failed often want something unrealistic. They see it as a charter to get what they want without considering the needs of the employer/colleagues/clients.

Also, it may be rather pedantic, but it's wrong to describe people who don't achieve flexible working as 'forced to resign'. No one is forced to resign through having a baby. Maternity rights are very clear in this country. You have a right to return to your job after statutory ML, or an equivalent job after additional ML. Applying for flexible working is a right - getting it isn't. You are asking for a change from the original job you were employed to do, and it's not an automatic right that you will get that. But no one is forcing you to resign - you could just go back to your original job.

flowerybeanbag Sun 17-May-09 21:38:18

wondergirl, amethyst and anyone else who thinks the current right to request flexible working is pointless, not strong enough, or 'a joke', I would genuinely be interested to hear what you would propose instead? Genuine question.

wondergirl99 Mon 18-May-09 11:05:36

To the people who did get flexi work hours after maternity leave well done lucky you,
you must have good employers but as you did manage it i dont think you have a right to comment on this thread as you clearly dont know where we are coming from,
As my child is disabled and i could not find suitable childcare before 7am when my job starts i had no option but to resign (as my boss said)I know the new work hours would have worked but was not given a chance to prove.

flowerybeanbag Mon 18-May-09 11:26:18

Why don't people who managed to negotiate something suitable have a right to comment wondergirl?

Amethyst started this thread because she was disappointed not to be able to get the hours she wanted. Various people posted with their experiences, positive and negative, all of which are relevant.

We have the right to request flexible working now. Some will get exactly what they wanted, some won't. Many who get something have done so as a result of a bit of compromise on both sides. Either way, I don't see why those who were able to negotiate something don't have a right to comment? This is a public forum and anyone with an experience or opinion on flexible working has just as much right to comment as people who happen not to have been able to get what they want.

Any chance of an answer to my question of yesterday at 21:38? It's all very well moaning about something but what would you propose instead as being a better solution?

MrsWobble Mon 18-May-09 13:48:24

don't know if it helps to hear an employer's point of view? I've had 4 flexible working requests in the last 2 years (from a staff of approx 200). I've granted all of them - 2 as originally requested and 2 with further adjustment. I don't particularly like them - it does make managing the business harder with most of the burden falling on people's colleagues I think. I think assuming that other people will cover is unrealistic - assuming that what people do in the event of illness or emergency is a reasonable long term arrangment is not necessarily fair.

amethyst123 Mon 18-May-09 14:35:54

Ok i did not want to start an argument when i posted this thread i was just venting my fustration and people like ilovemydogandMrObama and wondergirl agreed because they have been in my situation, so everyone else lets just agree to disagree and close the thread now hmm

flowerybeanbag Mon 18-May-09 14:52:09

How strange to want to 'close the thread' simply because everyone on it didn't all have the same point of view!

Personally I was genuinely interested to hear if those people who have been disappointed or don't believe this legislation is good enough have any suggestions as to how it could be improved. Shame if no one has any suggestions really, would have been an interesting discussion. Never mind.

amethyst123 Mon 18-May-09 15:09:48

why dont you open your own thread then flowerybeanbag wink

ruddynorah Mon 18-May-09 15:16:32

may i comment? oh yes i can, it's an open forum. i had my flexible working request accepted where i am, as did dh where he is. now there's a novelty. one public sector, one private sector.

i also speak as a line manager who deals with flexible working requests. what i would say is that if the request really is do able then we do it. if there are genuine business reasons not to do it, then we don't. we always try to negotiate. HOWEVER, some parents want it all their way with no regard for business needs or their colleagues. the best applications come from those who have really thought about how to make it workable and come to the table with a number of options. so NOT, this is what i want and i've already booked nursery for those hours.

rookiemater Mon 18-May-09 15:19:29

It's a very interesting question fbg about how flexible working requests could work differently.

Perhaps companies should be required to keep a record of how many requests were put in, how many were agreed as requested, how many were agreed but different from original request and how many were declined.

I do feel it is easy for companies to pay lip service to the notion of flexible working but when it comes to the practice of it it is very dependant on the line managers personal take on the situation and generally as it does require some extra work and creativity on their part, then its easy to see why they wouldn't be keen. Or the flip side in our office is that those managers that are receptive end up with an entire team of flexible workers because everyone who needs or wants it ends up clustering there.

I'm glad flexible working exists, but I do think pre DS I had a very rose tinted glasses idea about how it would work and I don't think I'm unusual in that, so I can understand why amethyst is feeling raw & hurt about it right now, even though in reality being some sort of position with hours that generally suit, is in my experience, unfortunately just about as good as it gets.

mumof2222222222222222boys Mon 18-May-09 16:51:48

I see it from both perspectives as I have benefitted (work ft but from 8 to 5 - most people here work 9.30 to 7 and I can work from home on occasion), but also have to deal with the odd request. These ones tend to be difficult (I am in house lawyer) and as others have pointed out, they tend to come from very blinkered people who refuse to see that the business cannot bow to their every whim.

We had one lady whose husband got a job abroad. We were accused of being inflexible because we would not allow her (a very junior employee) to work remotely from Timbuktoo.

Another one worked in a job with very specific hours (a client requirement). she said we should get a temp in to cover teh 1.5 hours she couldn't work.

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