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How to go about asking manager & HR to return 4 days a week not 5, long term?

(14 Posts)
Promdress Thu 28-May-09 16:02:50

I have a 4mo DS and was pushed have said I would go back when baby is 6mo or thereabouts even though I would have liked longer off.

I stand by my statement and am currently making plans to return to work in just under 3 months time.

I have agreed with my manager verbally that I will initially go back for 3 days, building up to 4. I have been careful to end this with "and then see how things are".

In recent conversations though she has been asking if I have thought of a timescale for the 3-4-5 days return. I have not commented on not doing 5 days as yet. In reality I would prefer to go back 3 days then 4 and stick on 4. Fridays are short days in our office and not many meetings happen then anyway so this would be the logical day not to work.

Potentially I could do my workload over 4 days but if there was an odd meeting on a Friday that I would need to attend, then I would certainly be prepared to attend (it as long as it wasn't most Fridays etc).

I think this is a fair proposal to suggest but I'm not sure how to phrase it. I know it's not business but the thought of being away from my DS who will barely be 7mo when I return to work, for 5 days a week, makes my eyes fill with tears. Even on 4 days a week he will be in nursery 3 long days with my mum helping out the 4th. I know "why should a company care" but I am looking forward to going back to work and am a good employee with a great track record, but just can't face 5 days.

HensMum Thu 28-May-09 16:18:50

You need to make a request for flexible working. Your company has to consider it but they don't have to grant it if there is a good business case not to. Sounds like you have a good case for 4 day weeks.

Why should a company care? Well, they're getting back a trained, competant member of staff. If you leave, they have to find a replacement, train them up etc which all takes time and money.

Good luck! I was dreading going back to work but I do 4 days a week now and it's not so bad. DP has DS for one day, and he's in nursery for the other 3 and it's working well. I really enjoy our Fridays together and to be honest, it's nice to get some adult company on other days! He was 1 when I came back though. Why are they pushing you to go back if you don't want to?

Promdress Thu 28-May-09 16:35:21

Hi Hensmum. Thanks for reply.

My company is a traditionally male-oriented environment so there isn't that much experience of pregnant employees in reality, only a textbook experience. eg my manager found out that you can legally return to work after two weeks of having birth and can have up to a 12m on mat leave so early on she "logically" presumed that I would be returning after 6m, ie the half way mark, as a "compromise" of sorts, and I was too weak/shy/grateful to correct her.

It's somewhat irrelevant but my manager herself has often said she has no desire to have DCs, as she is completely immersed in her work and life as it is without that distraction/complication, so I wouldn't really expect any particular understanding from her on this matter.

As work appeared to take the news of my pg quite well I felt I owed them something and was keen not to be seen as "dreamy pg woman" instead of "keen business-focussed employee".

Interestingly my manager's manager assumed I would want to be PT on my return to work, I had a brief chat with him when I took DS into work, so surely if my senior manager thinks it a possibility it can't be so very unreasonable? My manager is far scarier/harder than her manager, however.

Promdress Thu 28-May-09 20:24:09

Bump... anyone else have any tips?

Another thing I thought of is going along with the presumption of 5 day week but then when I'm actually back at work (and hopefully handling a 4 day week's work fine) say then that I don't want to go to 5 days and ask to stick on 4?

There are hints of redundancies going around ATM, and although our dept is apparently not affected, I don't want them to think "well, Promdress is only wanting to come back part time anyway etc" and give them a reason for selecting me (should it come to it).

Although it seems underhand not to be upfront about not wanting to do 5 days, before I go back, at least it gives me the chance to prove I can do 4 days OK. Or should I just tell them?

spicemonster Thu 28-May-09 20:36:41

Every parent with a child under the age of 5 has a right to request flexible working - there's lots of info on the net if you google.
If it would be useful (and I can't do it until tomorrow) I can post up the questions that are on the form that my company give us to put in a request for flexible working? It might be useful in terms of building your case. Bear in mind that how you feel when your DS is 4 months is not necessarily how you'll feel once you're back at work.

Also bear in mind that you will lose 20% of everything - that means holiday entitlement, pensions contributions and any other benefits.

It may be as well that once you go back 3 days and your boss sees how well things are going, then she's really happy for you to work 4 days. In my old firm, they've moved loads of people onto 4 days rather than making redundancies. So actually you're doing them a favour

Promdress Thu 28-May-09 21:11:30

Thanks Spicemonster smile

I have thought that by the time DS is 7mo he won't seem as tiny and vulnerable as he does now, so it won't feel as bad. (hopefully).

I've read quite a few posts where people have been turned down for flexible working so it has made me think that if the job is FT in the first time why would/could it suddenly go PT comfortably unless you were overpaid or working too many days in the first place IYSWIM.

I am cursed blessed with generally always seeing things from the business's POV, which is partly what makes me good at my job wink but not so good at putting my own needs up there too.

littone Thu 28-May-09 21:25:15

Hi Promdress - have a look at the factsheets section of the working families website. You need to make a formal request in writing (the flexible working factsheet will tell you what you need to include). You will be returning to a full time job unless you go through the right process to request flexible working - you need to do this regardless of what work says to be protected legally.

You have to put together a case as to how this will not affect the business (there are mumsnet threads with wording to use). I returned on a four day week and as I had accrued 40 days annual leave I used this to work 3 days per week for 6 months. You can only make one application per year so if you agree a 3 day week with work you may not be able to increase it to 4 days for 12 months so you need to think about if you can afford this.

Good luck!

rookiemater Thu 28-May-09 21:32:43

Hi, as you have already had the provisional chat with your manager, I don't think it will be a huge shock to her if you submit a 4 day working request, in your first post you summarised quite well how it work work.

TBH I think companies get a pretty good deal from 4 day a week workers as generally responsibilities don't reduce so effectively they are getting the job done for 80% of the salary.

Also if you aren't ready to go back then don't feel pressurised by your boss. You can take up to a year maternity leave and still be entitled to return to a job of the same grade which you left.

Promdress Fri 29-May-09 16:36:31

Thanks so much, rookiemater and littone.

Littone, a v good point re making one application a year - this makes sense and also I think I will have most power in the initial back-to-work review than trying to negotiate for a second time when I'm already back in work a few months along.

It stands to reason that if I've not raised a request for flexible working initially, then I will have accepted my full time role either by default or by signing something to that effect. I'm sure I legally could raise another meeting further down the line BUT it would be tiresome/wouldn't look good and may not be taken as seriously if I've gone back on my original word of accepting a FT role IYSWIM.

I have had a look at the Working Families site and there's lots of good information on that. I will start preparing my case in time for the forthcoming meeting with HR and my manager.

The only other thing now is: should I inform my manager in advance that I am planning on asking for flexible working in this meeting or should I leave it all to be discussed during the meeting?

My manager is the sort who likes to know everything in advance but I would like to present a professional distance on this matter.

Is it good form to give a heads up or should it just be dealt with within the meeting? HR, although friendly, always seem to represent management not staff so I would prefer to give it to them both at the same time without chance for manager to have researched and put own spin on it to HR in advance of meeting.

BBisfinallyPG Sat 30-May-09 10:56:31

personally i think you've been too soft here, i appreciate though that you may have agreed to what your bosses wanted as you enjoy your job, but i think that going back so soon, is a mistake. and i say that from experience as a very close friend went back when her DD was 6months, and has been depressed ever since. however thats not the issue just thought id share that with you and remind you that LEGALLY your employers has to hold your position open for 9 months and after that a similar (in pay & conditions) position for 3 more (so as to take it up to 12) so dont feel bullied to go back if you arent ready.

obviously doing what they want will perhaps increase your chances of getting your 4 days, however perhaps you could put in your proposal that to return at 6 months you would need 3 days, moving to four?

do you have a union rep or someone who could accompany you as you may find it easier not to back down if your accompanied. I wouldnt tell them in advance, as that will give them the op to prepare reasons why this wouldnt work,whereas if you can present your argument, with your suggestions of solutions for percieved problems, your argument will be stronger.

I can tell how much your job means to you, and obviously must make you very happy but dont do anything you dont want to.

Promdress Sat 30-May-09 17:13:30

Thankyou BBisfinallyPG (are congrats in order from your name? If so, congrats!)

It's ironic that much of my role is centred around negotiating when I am poor at negotiating on my own behalf.

There's no union rep unfortunately and it would be very awkward to go directly to HR over a work matter, it's just not "done". I will just have to grow a pair grin and tackle it as I would any other business deal, instead of behaving as though it's a huge favour for them to even consider my flexible working request.

I have kidded agreed with myself that I could always resign grin if things don't get resolved satifactorily. I'm hardly bound in chains to work there after all...

GrapefruitMoon Sat 30-May-09 17:21:53

A couple of other things to take into account:

You will still be accruing leave while on mat leave so you may have a lot of holidays to use up when you return, depending on how your holiday leave falls. You could return 3-4 days a week and take the other days as annual leave for a while if the company agreed.

One of the reasons I elected to return full-time rather than part-time was because I knew I would end up doing a full week's work in few days if I did and only get paid on a part-time basis. Obv it depends on what sort of job you do whether or not you will actually be able to walk out the door on Thursday evening at a normal time or whether you will end up working late a lot because stuff needs to be finished. I have a friend who works 3 days a week in a job-share who regularly does not get home till 9pm - and she doesn't get paid overtime. She is quite senior though so it is probably expected of her....

Promdress Sat 30-May-09 20:48:08

Thanks for your thoughts & suggestions, GrapefruitMoon.

I would have to collect my DS from nursery so there's no way I could be expected to work late (apart from exceptional occasions). Fortunately, my workload is in case format so I & my manager know how many cases I could reasonably expect to handle from past performance for a 5 day week. I guess that would be adjusted to reflect a 4 day week.

That's awful for your friend, even if she is senior.

BBisfinallyPG Sun 31-May-09 10:28:50

Hi Pomdress

yeah am nearly 19 weeks but took a while so thanks for your congrats, Glad your feeling more positive now! i think given the situation your company should have no issue with your request, and being a case by case situation also gives you the protection of the late finishes grapefruit mentioned, so seems perfect to me. Have they got someone in to cover you whilst your on leave or is the workload being shared out amoung others? if it is being shared out i would have thought that would strengthen your argument... I would also say that if i were you i would negotiate coming back to three days per week, and confirming that 4 days might be an option, as you dont want to tie yourself in until your sure?thats just a thought though.

from a company point of view they should be just as happy to have a part-timer, as part-timers have more drive to complete work to time, and they also have to pay us less hol!

anyway i hope it all works out for you, and enjoy your time off with DS! x

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