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Please help - returning to work after baby and think HR deliberately obstructing me

(19 Posts)
Drbint Mon 19-Oct-15 09:55:36

I'd be so grateful for any advice. My mat leave finishes in December and I have contacted HR asking about altering my hours. They have just said no because I put in a statutory flexible working request back in February and can only have 1 a year.

I didn't say this was a statutory FW request though, and I'm pretty sure I'm allowed to request it through a different route (sex discrimination?). My hours changed 3 months before I went off due to pregnancy complications too!

I'm just very confused and don't want to mess this up - working my old hours would be a nightmare, and all the other mothers here seem to work the hours they choose. They probably didn't have an existing stat request though.

Any help would be so appreciated. I'm trying not to get in a flap but I can't seem to find any straight info!

00100001 Mon 19-Oct-15 12:32:20

You only have the right to ask for different hours.

The company are under no obligation to give you what you want.

GreenSand Mon 19-Oct-15 12:48:02

They are just stating the rules as they stand. It is not HR who have stated one per year, but it is the legislation that everyone is allowed to apply for a change in hours once in 12 months.

Did they accept your Feb request?

Not everyone works the hours they choose. My flexible request was declined. Those working FT might not have had the option.

Hope you can work something out.

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 19-Oct-15 13:30:03

Did you request the change in hours in February? If you did legislation says you must wait another 12 months to make another request.
Do you have holiday to use? If so how long would you actually be at work before you could make another request?

Drbint Mon 19-Oct-15 13:36:23

Thank you for the replies - this is the confusion. I know I cannot have another statutory request until February. However, government guidelines seem to say that the statutory request is just one way of asking; if your circumstances change, you can put in a request via different legislation and the company still has to consider it/give grounds for not granting it. This would be whether you have an existing statutory request or not.

However, the guidance on this is not that clear. One government website says the statutory requests don't affect your rights to ask under changed circumstances, but the rest seem to say that statutory is the only way!

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 19-Oct-15 13:58:40

This page here shows that regardless of type of application of flexible working it is you can only make one per year and that any request is a statutory request.

flowery Mon 19-Oct-15 14:06:32

You can request flexible working whenever you like. Nothing stopping you writing to your employer and asking to change your hours at any time.

But you can only make one statutory request a year, ie a request that they have to properly consider using a procedure under the relevant legislation. Changing circumstances doesn't affect that entitlement to one a year.

If you've made a request less than a year ago, you can write again but they can just refuse to consider it if they want.

Any reason you're asking HR about this rather than your line manager? Getting your line manager ok with your proposal in principle is the first step anyway IMO.

BenWolf Mon 19-Oct-15 14:10:59

We've stumbled upon a few really helpful legal blogs on this website. Reckon these two would particularly help your situation..

dtmlegal.com/news/what-you-really-need-to-know-about-unlawful-maternity-discrimination/

dtmlegal.com/news/a-year-on-employers-encouraged-to-embrace-the-right-to-request-flexible-working/

Fizrim Mon 19-Oct-15 14:16:17

HR are right. Anyone can ask, they don't have to consider it. That goes for men and women - on what basis were you thinking of claiming sex discrimination?!

Drbint Mon 19-Oct-15 14:20:46

"on what basis were you thinking of claiming sex discrimination?!"

This one:
www.maternityaction.org.uk/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/cfwh.pdf

This is why I was so confused. I know they don't have to grant any requests, but the sexual discrimination act covers this too, and is the one you use if you already have a stat request in.

I have just spoken to HR again and they have confirmed that this is correct. Whether I have a stat request or not, the sex discrimination law means that they have to make a case for refusing my request for altered hours now.

Tiggeryoubastard Mon 19-Oct-15 14:21:02

That is not obstruction.

Fizrim Mon 19-Oct-15 14:24:34

That link doesn't go anywhere for me so I can't see what you are looking at, but HR would treat everyone the same. Was the February alteration/request down to the pregnancy complications?

FishWithABicycle Mon 19-Oct-15 14:30:05

What hours were agreed last February and what hours are you hoping for now?

You could have temporary childcare to cover the difference

You might be able to use your backlog of annual leave accrued to cover the difference

If all else fails and you can afford it, you can put in a request for unpaid parental leave. You are entitled to up to 18 weeks of parental leave per child. Use that to take you up to February?

flowery Mon 19-Oct-15 14:33:59

Link doesn't work OP. But the Sex Discrimination Act has been superseded by the Equality Act, which doesn't give an additional right for protected groups to put in more frequent statutory requests for flexible working .

There is no requirement for an employer to "make a case" for refusing flexible working requests outside the statutory framework. Having said that, it would be sensible for any employer to properly consider requests from maternity leave returners.

Where is your line manager in this?

Drbint Mon 19-Oct-15 14:53:03

My line manager has told me to talk to HR and that she will support me once she knows the legal position. Agreed it is not obstruction - daft title.

Flower - it is not a statutory request, as I have already stated more than once.

I have no idea what the situation is now, but my HR department seems to agree that itis the sex discrimination act, so I will continue discussions with them rather than here. Many thanks for your advice.

PatriciaHolm Mon 19-Oct-15 18:56:30

Given the Sex Discrimination Act was entirely repealed by the Equality Act 2010, it would appear that your HR have little idea what they are doing, unfortunately.

Drbint Mon 19-Oct-15 19:36:25

www.pcs.org.uk/en/equality/guidance-and-resources/work-life-balance-toolkit/flexible-working.cfm

It's under the Equality Act

flowery Mon 19-Oct-15 19:46:45

OP that link is all about statutory requests under the flexible working legislation. It doesn't say anything about the Equality Act giving you rights to make additional requests. confused

Lunastarfish Mon 19-Oct-15 19:51:23

You and/or your Hr are mistaken. The sex discrimination act won't apply to you. It's the Equality Act which is relevant.

As others have said you have the right to make one statutory request for flexible working in a 12 month period. The flexible working regulations compel your employer to deal with your request.

Now, as other pp have said there is nothing stopping you making a general request for a change of hours (let's call it a change of hours instead of flexible working to avoid confusion) but as it is a general request your employer is not compelled to deal with your request. As flowery said a sensible employer would deal with any request for a change of hours otherwise they risk an allegation of sex discrimination (which would be pleaded in the tribunal under the Equality Act, not sex discrimination act).

Ultimately all employees have the right to request flexible working but an employer doesn't have to grant it irrespective if someone has had a child.

Just because other employees have been granted a change of hours it doesn't mean your employer has to grant it to you. It's certainly an argument you can pursue but if an employer is at saturation point they may be able to justify any allegation of discrimination in the tribunal

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