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Am I forced out???

(48 Posts)
Jenny79 Thu 11-Feb-10 13:25:41

Hi all,
a month ago I applied for part time return to work from March onwards. My boss returned the app to me asking that I also include the flexi hours which I will need after an initial two month period.

So my proposal is part time (3d/week 9-4pm) and then after 2 months I'll go back to 5d/week but still 9-4 so I can pick up my baby from nursery. I work at Canary Wharf (business moved there after I left for mat leave!) and my home is in Fulham. Leaving at 4pm will ensure I'm at the nursery (opposite my place) by 5.30pm.

My contracted hours are 9-5, so my proposal mentioned that I will do the extra hour remotely from home, when needed. And that's because picking up the baby will be a shared responsibility with husband, although he may not be able to do this at all (keep in mind for later..)

I need to pay the nursery to secure my baby's place and only now did my boss come back to say that she (31, no children, not married) has to think about the Business and the rest of the team and although she is ok for the part time, she cannot provide a decision on the flex hours until she understands how I propose to manage my team, projects etc. AS IF I will be waiting until 4pm to manage my team or projects...!! Am I being unreasonable or is she just difficult? So if I were a single mom and did not have anyone to pick up the baby wouldn't she be forcing me out of work by not approving flexi hours?

My husband works abroad most of the days so I can tell he will not be able to pick up the baby for me. And I'll be paying extra in order to leave the baby at 8am and pick him up after 5. All in all I am sacrificing my hours with my son, and a fortune on nursery fees in order to keep my job and they can't let me go home an hour early? What is wrong with people?

The baby sleeps at 7pm so I'll be able to log in and answer emails for an hour then. I'm not a slacker and while pregnant at 8 months I worked 9-7 or longer for a project we had, when everyone had gone home. The project went live a week after I left fog mat leave and guess what, I never got credit for it (boss did).

I am really stressed and pretty depressed. Cried my eyes out yesterday.. I worked really hard to get to where I am, how can my boss not understand my needs?

Jenny79 Thu 11-Feb-10 13:36:05

My position is senior, I manage 3 FTEs and been with this firm since 2006. In the past I have worked remotely while at another post within the same firm (bank)

Skegness Thu 11-Feb-10 13:40:04

Are you sure you're not getting upset prematurely? She hasn't said no, just wants clarification, if I understand you correctly. Can't you just tell her how you're proposing to do it?

babyOcho Thu 11-Feb-10 13:43:20

Do you work with people in the US, so is there an issue with time zones?

Have you also told your boss why it's important that you need to leave at 4pm? And why your DH cannot be relied on to pick-up?

StillSquiffy Thu 11-Feb-10 13:53:20

What she is concerned about is not the difference between 4pm and 5pm, but the difference between having one member of the team always unavailable for overtime which means that the rest of the team will have to do all the extra hours between them - you have said yourself that there will be unpaid overtime needs at certain times. That's the problem but she probably doesn't want to articulate it because it is a grey area.

I did research on flexible working in Investment Banking and found that the more flexible you are, the more flexible they will be - that means being available after 4pm when it is needed - and in turn that means sorting out appropriate childcare - either using a nursery closer to the office or using a childminder instead of a nanny for example.

If you insist on a strict time schedule that doesn't allow for overtime they will possible begrudge you for it, even if they agree to it.

I found it easier to drop 20% salary and do a 4 day week; working those normal long banking days when I was in the office. I also swapped my days around quite often. Makes your own life more complicated but makes it easier for your employers to support you.

Jenny79 Thu 11-Feb-10 14:05:12

Skegness - yes, I guess I may be getting upset for no reason.. My DH would certainly say so. She set up a call with HR on the line to get more details.

Babyocho - yes, there will be calls with US at some point but we can arrange 2-4pm easily.

Stillsquiffy- think u hit the nail on the head.
I wouldn't be able towork overtime in the office anymore and will not sacrifice my precious time with DH on weekends to get more hours in. They cannot force me about it right? I don't want to start a war with my boss or HR.

rookiemater Thu 11-Feb-10 20:48:34

Perhaps the sticking point may be the part where you propose to do the last hour "remotely from home, when needed" almost suggests that you wouldn't be doing your paid hours. If you want your core hours to be 9 -4 she may be more amenable if you request to be paid for that rather than having a vague arrangement about putting that time in the evening. Yes it means a drop in salary but will perhaps make it more attractive to your company.

Whilst I can understand why you are upset at the end of the day your employers are not obliged to accept your flexible working request and sadly as I know stuff that you did pre DC isn't usually taken into account, nor unfortunately do employers express much interest in your childcare arrangements.

I do hope you get something sorted out.

annh Thu 11-Feb-10 21:07:13

Unfortunately, accommodating your childcare arrangements is not a reason for your employers to agree to your flexi hours request. Investment banking is not a particularly family-friendly career imo and you may end up very stressed at having to leave on time every day when the US is only having their mid-morning coffee. Could you possibly look at a more flexible childcare arrangement? It sounds as if you and your husband's combined incomes could support paying for a nanny which would relieve some of the pressure on you.

Jenny79 Thu 11-Feb-10 22:26:41

Not an investment banker, and no contact with customers. While one would like to think we can afford a nanny, 30k+ a year is nowhere near our capability.

Other new moms in the same division ( but different dept) do have flexi hour arrangement. Ok, not all roles are the same but can they reject my app without even letting me try this arrangement for a short period, to show them I can meet my responsibilities with no issues?

My mind keeps going back to the 'unpaid overtime' which they will lose but even if they reject my app I'm determined to only do 9-5 from now on. They can't force me to do overtime when I have other commitments after work! Besides, I don't think that my salary can increase further within this firm or that I cab get promoted more (the role would have to be regional then which means traveling). So I don't think I'll hurt my career if I say no to overtime. That is, if I don't give up this job to stay home.

Jenny79 Thu 11-Feb-10 22:29:23

Why does childcare cost so much in this country... Rhetoric question.
Wish my mom lived close by!

moondog Thu 11-Feb-10 22:35:19

Don't underestimate how hard it is to work and care for a baby alone.
My dh went to work abroad the day i returned to work f/t after mat. leave when baby was 7 months old.

Was really hardgoing.
No break-ever.
Either working or looking after baby.

Jenny79 Fri 12-Feb-10 06:45:47

Tell me about it, it's been like that the last 7 months anyway, as DH travels most of the week and when he's back I want him to rest so I never ask him to do anything for the baby.

Anyway, planning to re-send my form and detail my proposal for flexi hours, any suggestions on content, something I should definitely mention?

VerityClinch Fri 12-Feb-10 09:29:44

Jenny (yoohoo, I miss you, bloody come home will you? And C misses G, I think ;)

As part of your contract, have you waived your rights under the working time directive? Because you can opt back IN to the working time directive any time you want, and there's not a whole lot your employer can do about it (other than get p1ssed off and hold it against you forever, but that's another story).

Or, you know, you could, like, get pregnant again before you're due back at work... ;)

If there's anything that has ever been written in your appraisals about your flexibility and/or commitment, you should reference that in your request. As long as it's a positive comment, obviously. The more you can demonstrate you are a committed and flexible employee who is requesting a TEMPORARY arrangement while you have a young baby, the better. Lock the idea down with them that this is really just a short term thing in the context of your long career with them. Bang on a bit about how committed you are to them and to your team and to your onwards career progression with them. Can't hurt.

Jenny79 Fri 12-Feb-10 10:54:17

If things get tough can I employ John's services? As long as it doesn't cost me your new loft ;)))

RibenaBerry Fri 12-Feb-10 12:37:52


I'm sorry, but I'm going to be really, really blunt about this.

In terms of your request, I think you need to be clear what you are asking for. Are you asking for a break in the day - i.e. you stop at 4 and pick up for as long as necessary at home afterwards (i.e. an hour or more, not 'when needed'). Or, are you asking for compressed hours - i.e. 9 to 4 and take a pay cut?

Shortened or compressed hours (such as working 9-4) only really work in two situations:

1. Where people generally only work their contracted hours (so that other people aren't taking the strain of your cut in hours, and so that your leaving an hour early isn't really 2 or more hours off everyone else's day - which causes resentment); or

2. Where you are able to be very flexible and pick up extra hours where needed.

You have said that your job is the sort where 1. doesn't apply, and you have said that you are not willing to do 2 (sacrifice time with son, etc, etc).

If your job is the sort that requires hours over and above the core contracted hours, you will almost certainly find that there is something in your contract which requires you to do such additional hours as required for the needs of the job. So, your employer is allowed to ask you to work longer hours if you can't get the job done in shorter hours. This can be hard in a job where you aren't in full control - I know as a lawyer how frustrating it is when a client waits until 5pm to pick up the phone to you...

Finally, look at this from your bosses viewpoint, of course your boss cannot understand your needs. She probably dedicates all her time to her job. I'm not saying that's right, but are you really that surprised that in your industry she's not automatically in tune with your request?

In terms of filling out the application, take a look at Directgov, and search through the archives here. EvilHRLady (or a similar name) made some really good comments about what to include in the application. It's all about showing the business that you can meet the requirements of your job, not place a burden on colleagues, etc.

Good luck! It can be done (though, as Squiffy says, you need to be as flexible as you can possibly be).

LoveMyGirls Fri 12-Feb-10 12:52:30

Have you considered using a childminder, some work until 6pm and possibly later on occasion)

Orissiah Fri 12-Feb-10 14:32:15

Why are you rigidly adhering to 9-4 core hours and only then additional hour if needed after baby is in bed?

Can't you be more flexible ie you will work 9 to 4 in the office then you will work an additional hour or more after baby's bedtime at 7pm? But do work the additional hour and don't say "as required" - that would put my back up as an employer especially in finance.

You've made the decision to continue to work in high pressured environment, so put in the hours after baby goes to bed.

Jenny79 Fri 12-Feb-10 16:08:15

To explain 'as required' - I meant that I would work the extra hour from home on days when it would be required to leave office early. Some days my husband will he able to pick him up from nursery, in which case I'll be staying in the office for the full 9-5 (or longer if it is needed, i.e during projects).

I'm good at managing my time and can get the job done quickly (when I'm not bombarded with 1000 irrelevant questions from colleagues) but I fear that upcoming system upgrades (Compliance - Monitoring for those familiar with my job line) will mean that I will be the nominated project manager and will have to put in extra hours. Maybe if I show that I'm flexible to put additional hours (over my contractual hours) but from home? Although I do not want to over-commit and stretch myself too much.

I'm the sort of person who's really loyal to employer and boss when I'm treated fairly. And As manager I'm the last to leave the office on a daily basis (pre- baby).
I definitely don't want my colleagues to do my work. But in this huge organisation which prides itself for allowing employees to have a work-life balance, I find it hypocritical that they give you this attitude when they know (any good manager should understand) that your situation is something completely new even to you. I'm stressed and I'm not even back in the office!!

VerityClinch Fri 12-Feb-10 16:46:59

John's new firm wouldn't be able to help you, his new place is all off-shore structures, trusteeships, private banking and god knows what, but not employment law - he could put you in touch with a guy from his old firm, but obviously it would cost - more than it would be worth to you, I imagine.

Don't jump the gun, anyway - I know you're panicking, and I totally understand why, I can't bear the thought of being away from C either (except while she is teething...) So, put in your application, wait for them to respond in writing, check to see if any reasons they give for declining your request are valid (I can help you here, as I have done all the research in preparation for going into battle with my own company if needs be), lodge your appeal, wait for their response etc etc and we'll take it from there.

You can always stay off for your full year while you work this out, and then, if you need to, take another 4 weeks unpaid parental leave - any more than that and you lose your right to return to your job (ie, they don't have to give you a job back). Have you looked into whether or not there's another, more suitable, job you could take instead? That's another option at somewhere as big as your place.

Trust me, I am the EXPERT on maternity rights, even if I do say so myself, having called (and won) my own HR dept on a number of points over the last 9 months.

Jenny79 Fri 12-Feb-10 19:33:52

That's because you don't have an HR policy lololololllolol ;p
can't afford to stay away for the full year. Mortgage!!

StillSquiffy Sat 13-Feb-10 11:07:36

Everything that Ribena says.

Before you started work there was what is called a psychological contract between you and your employer - you performed well, did the hours required, and in return they valued you and so on. It is never written down, but it kind of goes along the lines that you treat each other in a sort of equilibrium - you are as fair to them as you think you deserve to be and vice versa.

Having a baby necessarily changes this. They don't know how you will be when you come back - will you still be dedicated, committed, motivated? Will you take lots of time off work and want to skip off without doing your share of overtime? And I haven't yet met a working career mum (bear in mind this was the subject of research I did) who didn't fundamentally change in terms of how they saw their careers when they returned to work. And this changes the 'psychological contract' - you will be different and they may treat you differently in return. But it also works both ways - a mum who works flexibly becomes more loyal and ends up more valued sometimes, and some mums become even more career-minded because they want to get to a senior level and take more control over their lives in this way. My bosses turned into uber-flexible superstars once they realised that I was still highly motivated and willing to try really hard to make things work and that meant I was able to take many more liberties (AKA unofficial time off) than colleagues of mine who were not flexible themselves. But whatever happens, there will be an adjustment of expectations.

If you DO go back refusing to do overtime, and digging your heels in, then they will probably treat you as a liability and not an asset, which will be a horrible position to find yourself in and you really will hate going to work in such a situation, knowing that they no longer value you.

If you like the company and want to stay and enjoy your work then you need to look at it from their point of view - what will they need to see, in order to make them still value you? Then decide if you are willing to provide it, and take it from there.

annh Sat 13-Feb-10 13:46:45

Jenny, sorry don't know why I thought you were in banking. I think Ribenaberry's advice is spot on and kind of what I didn't have the guts to say! I still think that a more flexible form of childcare will help you. I used a nursery for DS1 when I first went back to work but it was about 15 mins from our home and then I drove back about 5 mins towards our home for work. Even with those small distances, I found myself panicing every evening when it got to 5.30 and I wanted to leave for the day, in case someone asked for something to be done - even a conversation with someone on the stairs on the way out was a stress! Give the nursery a try but maybe be prepared to consider a childminder or nanny share if it becomes too stressful.

Kiwinyc Sat 13-Feb-10 16:18:24

I think you're going to have to offer a bit more - i agree that the needing to leave every day at 4pm is probably an issue, even if you say you'll make the time up.

I work 4 days, one day from home, 3 in the office and leave early at 4pm ONE of those 3 days only. The other days my DH or my MIL do the pick up and I have the flexibility to work late when i need to on the other days. Thats how i show my commitment.

Jenny79 Sat 13-Feb-10 18:19:12

There's no registered childminder in my immediate area. And nannies cost in excess of £32k in Fulham London. Tried toregister on a website for nannyshare but didn't find someone close enough to my place (and the other mom kind of wanted both babies to be at her place all the time...). The nursery I found is a brand nes one, overlooking a new park and just opposite the bus stop, close to home. I can't afford nursery + someone to pick up the baby so ican stay longer.

What's the point really, staying late in the office just to show commitment or getting the job done? My boss needs to take a specific train to get hone so she needs to be out of the office certain time around 5.30 so she can't really do overtime. Same with other colleagues who commute by train. Isn't this the same thing? I don't have a train to catch but the nursery!

I ll be really pissed if they don't even give me a trial on flexi. There is nothing that cannot bd done from home in my job and there are rarely any emergencies. I've added that 'm happy to be contacted for urgent cases on my days off and to work overtime if given enoughnotice so I can arrange suitable childcare. Hope they're ok with that. Ok, prepared to sacrifice a big more. I don't want to go to war. That can be really stressful.

thenamesarealltaken Mon 15-Feb-10 14:49:24

Jenny, I have the same issue. My company do not like you saying you'd make up the extra hour or half hour at home (no matter how hard you try to explain and no matter how genuine you are). It seems many companies will be flexible in considering a new contract that suits you both (so they adhere to UK law). But, not in having hours flexibly worked by parents with young children. I say the same things to my boss that you do, but they just don't like it. And I could do a lot of my job from home too, and I would when my kids are in bed. But, they wont have it.

So I've altered my contract and get paid for a shorter day. Can you not just ask for a new contract based on 9-4? I know it's silly, when you know you will do the extra hour, but some companies don't like to encourage such flexibility and home working.

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