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Help - how to I explain 'impact of new working pattern' on my flexible working form?

(18 Posts)
cbmum Thu 21-May-09 20:26:57

I'm a solicitor and was working ft until DD arrived. I want to return 3 days p wk. I suspect this will be ok as at the moment there isn't much work around (recession = less people paying for advice).

I've got to complete the return to work form ASAP but I don't know what to put on the section where I have to say what the impact of me working pt will be. I would like to say they should be relieved as there is not enough work if I went back ft but I don't suppose that would go down well...

I know on the days I'm not there my colleagues will have to deal with my clients but I can't think of anything else to put - my brain has gone to mush. Help!

Just to make matters even simpler we were told last week that DD hasn't got into our chosen nursery and now we're struggling to sort out childcare. It's all 'chicken and egg' as work want to know the days I'm going back but child carers need to know what days I'll be working so that they can accommodate us. Nightmare!!

voyagerfan Thu 21-May-09 21:03:30

not a solicitor but similar problems re childcare and days

BigBellasBeerBelly Thu 21-May-09 21:10:38

It is tricky - I wanted to put that while I was away no-one was employed to cover me so me going back 3 days would be a positive boon.

didn't put that though!

Hopefully someone clever will be along in a mo...

MollieO Thu 21-May-09 21:17:26

They want to know what will happen on the days you are not there - how will your work be covered? What hand over will you have? I suppose it depends on what sort of work you do and whether someone does need to pick it up in your absence. I did a year of 4 days a week and was lucky that a colleague helped out. Having said that mostly I did 5 days work for 4 days pay.

Basicially will it be a pita for them to let you work 3 days a week.

voyagerfan Thu 21-May-09 21:20:58

and my head gone mushy too wink

wonderingwondering Thu 21-May-09 21:21:42

You need to explain the positive and negative, and how they'll outweigh each other. So yes, on the days you don't work, others will need to cover - but, in any event, surely more than just one fee earner would be able to deal with a query on a matter? So no real difference there. And if there is a query that another fee earner can't deal with, you are of course happy to be contacted by email/mobile on your days out of the office if necessary.

Is your work 'real time'/time critical? i.e. transactional. That makes p/t difficult, Or are deadlines easier to plan for - i.e. x has to be done in two weeks time, y in three months' time? If so, you need to make it clear that you will be able to plan your work and that it is manageable (i.e. no deadline of the 'midnight tonight' variety that mean colleagues get dumped on).

How senior are you? Will colleagues/subordinates get adequate supervision?

You will bill less, but your targets will be adjusted - what is 3/5 of your previous target? Do you realistically think you can meet that, given your new family commitments (i.e not for the form, but for you to consider - do you need to be out of the office at 5 to pick up your child, or can your DP help?). And what about marketing/business development? If you are going to have to cut back on that, explain it, but also say that you'll compensate for schmoozing clients after work with articles, training sessions etc (again, not for the form, but I'd recommend offering things you could write in the evening at home).

cbmum Thu 21-May-09 21:24:10

I specialise in family law so I deal with everything from divorce and money disputes through to children disputes plus lots of other things that crop up.

Work would be covered by other people in the team and I suppose if it's an urgent problem then they would call me on my day off.

My boss started off at the firm working 2 days and now does 4 but as compressed hours so I'd hope she would be understanding but who knows. Our HR director is a witch and horrid to deal with hence my reluctance with this bloomin form!

voyagerfan Thu 21-May-09 21:31:36


cbmum Thu 21-May-09 21:34:37

Thanks voyagerfan I think I'm going to need it! It would be sooo much easier if I could stay at home and not go back to work but not possible. Maybe I'll win the lottery before September

Wonderingwondering - great tips, I've not go the start of a list. You're a star.

MadameStripes Wed 03-Jun-09 11:27:56

I'm a solicitor (commercial litigation) and have just had my flexible working application for 3 days rejected by my employer, so I don't feel qualified to give you any tips cbmum.

If it helps: here are the grounds for rejection, so that you can try and address them in your application. They are quite wide though.

1. Burden of additional costs
2. Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
3. Inability to re-organise work among existing staff
4. Inability to recruit existing staff.
5. Detrimental impact on quality
6. Detrimental impact in performance
7. Insufficiency of work during periods the employee proposes to work
8. Planned structural changes

I think that my employer would have rejected my application no matter what I said... (bastards)

Good luck though.

voyagerfan Wed 03-Jun-09 21:15:52

Am appealing my flexible working decision tomorrow, am crossing fingers but not really expecting too much...

MadameStripes Wed 03-Jun-09 21:29:14

Good luck then voyagerfan

cbmum Fri 05-Jun-09 10:16:31

MadameStripes that's not good to hear. So much for progressive law firms hey!

If they have rejected your application you could go back 'full time' but not take your holiday that has accrued during your maternity leave before you go back (they can't force you to do so) but then take 2 days holiday per week. After-all, you have to use it up by the end of the year and surely it's more convenient for them for you to be off for a day here and there rather than whole weeks!

In the meantime whilst at work, get the agents to find you another job or consider locum options?

That's my plan anyway....

RibenaBerry Fri 05-Jun-09 17:07:58


I think what you need to focus on is how your work will be dealt with on days you are not at work. Try not to say simply that your colleagues will do it. If you do that, the tempting answer for an employer who does not want to agree is "why should X do her/his job plus yours?"

I would suggest that you structure it like this:

1. Start by explaining what can wait until your next day in the office. Explain why the days of the week off you are choosing have been chosen to minimise the work that will actively need cover. In my line, for example, Monday's are quietest, on Wednesdays most things can wait until a Thursday, but having Friday off is a nightmare.

2. Then explain how your work could be covered on days you do not work. If a colleague will cover, explain why this is not giving them their job +20%. You may want to sell it as moving to a more collaborative, team based approach and then talk about why that is good for the department - economic climate, under utilisation of staff currently, knowledge sharing, etc, etc. If there is a trainee or someone to take up the slack where covering can be seen as actual development, then do add that.

3. Explain the flexibility you are willing to give. Will you pick up emails on days off (say, first thing and at lunchtime)? Can you be contacted by phone. Are you willing to change the days if these do not work for some reason.

4. Specifically ask that, if your request cannot be agreed, the firm puts forward ideas they could agree (although try to not phrase this as an invitation to scale you back!).

Finally, try and imagine you are (i) a colleague; and (ii) a boss who's not keen to agree your request. Imagine what they would say and try and respond to those issues.


MadameStripes Fri 05-Jun-09 18:26:31

That sounds like a plan cbmum - I had thought about going back and starting to look elsewhere. I have appealed (FWIW) and told them I might do a 4 day week instead. We shall see......

Good luck with your application, let us know how it goes.

cbmum Sat 06-Jun-09 19:17:21

I've a meeting with HR sometime before the end of the month so will know more then. I told my boss very clearly before I left that I was only willing to return 3 days a week so it will come as no surprise. I feel absolutely no loyalty to the firm so it's up to them. Accommodate me or lose me!

MadameStripes Sun 28-Jun-09 22:26:00

How did you get on cbmum?

I went back last week having agreed a 4 day week at the 11th hour. No traumas so far....

booyhoo Sat 04-Jul-09 00:39:30

when i applied for a 3 dayweek after ds1 was born i was quietly advised to mention aswell as everything else that having a work life balance is important for the emotional well being of all employees and that i felt my work and performance would suffer as a result of being over stretched and being stressed about my child's wellbeing as a result of being separated for so much time.

i did get my 3 day week although i cant know wether this helped or not.

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