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Let's talk about flexible you do it, how does it work, what does your employer think? Share with MN jobs...

(84 Posts)
AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 30-Nov-17 13:45:12

Here at MNHQ, our colleagues on the MN jobs desk would love to know how you get on with flexible working requests with your employers, especially after a return from leave.

Our Family Friendly programme survey revealed just how strongly parents feel about flexible working - with a fifth of those who work flexibly, or who have done in the past, saying that it is 'priceless'. Flexible working is valued more highly by employees that other workplace perks, even more important than career and salary progression. And there's good news for employers who embrace flexible working, with flexible workers having an overwhelmingly positive view of their workplaces.

However, there's still some way to go when it comes to awareness of working flexibly: 27% of people surveyed did not know that they had the right to request flexible working.

So - AIBU to expect to be able to work flexibly after maternity (/paternity/ adoption/ fostering) leave? What's your experience of flexible working requests? What would be your dream flexible working pattern? Share your views and stories on this thread.

If you’re interested in a new job (flexible of course) sign up for Mumsnet Jobs alerts here and do follow them on Twitter @mumsnetjobs or Facebook. How about this one? an IT Systems Manager - with the option to work flexibly or part time? If your employer has been amazing for flexible working, get them to email us ( to find out about the Mumsnet Family Friendly programme!


Insight T and Cs Apply

Believeitornot Thu 30-Nov-17 16:12:36

I think everyone should have the right to request flexible working. Regardless of responsibilities.

I also think there should be more innovation in terms of working hours. We should question why 9-5, 5 days a week is appropriate or necessary for one person. What about splitting roles down more into shorter blocks, especially at higher paid grades to free up jobs for other people?

It seems we are stuck in a traditionalist model but don’t really consider if that model remains appropriate anymore.

My own personal experience is that I’ve had “flexible working” (well it’s more like reduced hours) approved. I work quite flexibly - work extra hours when necessary and fewer if I don’t need to.

TheABC Thu 30-Nov-17 16:19:12

I wanted to work within school hours but despite most of my work taking place online, it's almost impossible to find a
flexible job. So now I run my own business.

PinkBuffalo Thu 30-Nov-17 17:14:10

I am not a parent, but I work full time flexible working. I have a severely disabled mum, and my dad has cancer so I need the flexibility probably much more than people with kids. No equivalent of childcare for my doubly incontinent mum who can't move, and care costs would be £1400 a week (more than my monthly pay).
On the negative side, I cannot move roles because everything else is 8-4 or 9-5. I'm just lucky to have the flexi working I guess.

AlwaysOldBeforeMyTime Thu 30-Nov-17 17:46:22

I find it odd that so few jobs are advertised as being open to flexible working, yet most roles I'm aware of are happy to accept requests from current employees. Is it to do with levels of trust for new hires?

Dancinggoat Thu 30-Nov-17 18:45:09

I work for the NHS.
I work three days a week and was allowed to annualise my hours when they were in school. I worked three days one week and four the next to cover extra needed.
When mine left school I was allowed to revert to normal working.
We are also allowed to take up to one flexi day a month but with work load that isn't feasible.
I am allowed to swap days if given notice if something comes up. I can start and finish within 8 and 6.00 to suit my day.
My only restriction is that I see the set amount of patients required in a day.
I can also take holiday when I want as we don't get cover.
However I am incredibly lucky and not many departments within the NHS are anywhere near as flexible as mine.

EggysMom Thu 30-Nov-17 18:49:20

In my team, I have three individuals with formal flexible working arrangements (reduced hours/odd days) and an informal arrangement for one that depends on their health. Whilst that number is manageable, it does become harder with every flexible working request as there are fewer people working full-time to cover holiday periods, sicknesses etc - I can't pull the flexible workers in for more hours as all their requests link to school or nursery arrangements. But the person who is eventually declined - on grounds of being unable to accommodate within the business - is going to have their nose put out of joint, because others do already have what they are requesting; it's simply a case of the last person to ask, probably won't get.

kittensinmydinner1 Thu 30-Nov-17 19:14:40

Civil Service. Fantastic flexible working policy in most non customer facing jobs... and even some which are - within the confines of the job.

I started at the bottom and have had 3 dcs- worked part time. Full time . Term time only . Now work from Home 2 days a week . Compress my week into 4 days . Have Monday's off and only commute twice... it really is a truly family friendly employer. But it does get easier to be more flexible as you become more senior ..

Kraggle Thu 30-Nov-17 19:20:58

I requested flexible working on return from maternity leave. I was informed the only option they would consider was a traditional job share as they already had too many people working untraditional shifts.

gamerwidow Thu 30-Nov-17 19:40:30

I work 3 days a week in a senior management role in the NHS having applied to a full time job and successfully negotiated down the houses. Of the 9 people I manage 4 have some form of flexible hours either for health or caring reasons. It sometimes needs a bit of give and take on both sides to make it worth. For example I’m happy to swap my days to cover annual leave or if there is an important event I need to attend. At the same time if I need to change my working days for childcare or like this week to take my Mum to the hospital then it’s not a problem for me to do so.
We work on the principle that as long as the job gets done it doesn’t really matter when you are doing it!

gamerwidow Thu 30-Nov-17 19:41:37

*negotiated down the hours

MadameRaleuse Thu 30-Nov-17 19:51:19

I am employed 32 hours a week. I go into the office twice a week most weeks, sometimes just the once, occasionally three times - it's a PITA of a commute so I much prefer to WFH. The rest of the time I WFH. Sometimes I do some of my hours in the evening, sometimes at the weekend. Sometimes I am just not that busy so I give myself a break and know that I will more than catch up at a later date. In fact my contract stipulates that the 32 hours a week is "calculated" on a yearly basis, rather than weekly or even monthly.

I'm paid to do a job. As long as it is done no-one minds how I get it done.

I'm extremely lucky, but I am a self-starter who gets stuff done without anyone telling me what to do. A decade or so ago the job wouldn't have suited me at all as I wouldn't have been able to stay motivated. I couldn't ask for a better role to be honest.

I go to all school events, can be there for my kids when they are ill or during school holidays, and with my DH we manage the school drop offs and pick ups pretty well. I have about 12-20 days a year when I need to travel, but the rest of it more than makes up for it.

There are disadvantages - I won't ever get much of a payrise or bonus and will never be promoted. But I am OK with that, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

PurplePotatoes Thu 30-Nov-17 19:55:52

I work for a local authority and they are really good at flexible working. After DC1 I reduced to part time and after DC2 have just gone 3 days term time only. We can also make up 2 flexi days per mo th but due to the school/nursery run I dont have much opportunity to do this myself. I am lucky and tbh it's a big reason that I've continued to work within an LEA when the pay isn't amazing for the maternity benefits and flexible working policy.

s4nha Thu 30-Nov-17 20:10:34

I am in the position where Flexible working has been given readily when asked for previously to individuals with no responsibilities illness etc. I have now asked as I have disabled son and they are offering me a job share, within strict criteria. Thing shave changed and will change in department. I am going to go for it, but they have sailed close to the wind in terms of sex discrimination and discrimination by association. The legislation for flexible working is a minefield.

RavingRoo Thu 30-Nov-17 20:15:53

With flexibility comes great responsibility and time management skills. Many of the organisations I worked for, requested staff to pass their probationary period before offering flexibility but after that it was pretty unrestricted: work from home, flexible working, part time working, working from another site. I prefer work from home as I’m organised and focussed, plenty are not.

NeverTwerkNaked Thu 30-Nov-17 20:27:55

Everyone in our organisation has flexible working now. It’s fantastic, whatever stage of life you are at. It stops the resentment towards mums/parents too, as everyone can plan their work/life pattern (within reason). The payback for the organisation is - we probably all accept wages slightly lower than the norm; we all let work infiltrate our evenings/ days off when needed (knowing we will get the time back); the focus is on tasks achieved not bums on seats. People who take the piss lose out when it comes to pay rises /promotions etc.
It’s a much better system; that treats all employees like responsibile professionals.

Dixeychick Thu 30-Nov-17 21:04:15

I'm in a senior role, & work flexibly; I returned from maternity leave full time but working compressed hours, so core hours 8-5 on a 9-day fortnight with alternate Fridays off or working from home. When I was promoted my work agreed to make me officially part time at 90% hours but on that work pattern while keeping my pay the same to protect my flexible arrangement within my contract. I considered asking to go 4 days a week and I think they would consider it, but in reality I'd end up working lots of overtime from home but not getting paid for it, and I want to be paid for the work I do! It works well for me as my husband also takes time off on the days when I'm working from home to look after our DC and I still get to do mealtimes with them on those days. I have supported the flexible working requests that have been put to me by my team so several members of my team work part time or from home on set days. However, some of my colleagues complain that my team are seen as often all being out of the office, I think the feeling is that they are lazy - which isn't true. Still a way to go I guess.

Cintacmrs Thu 30-Nov-17 21:09:51

unfortunately some profession its just not feasible - so only choice is part time but even then the days are dependant on employer and can change so a head ache for childcare

Coughingchildren5 Thu 30-Nov-17 21:45:51

I negotiated part time hours and regular home working when returning from maternity leave and when moving to a new job to cope with childcare and my commute. Some managers really struggle with flexible workers. They like to see people at desks. I like to hope that the work place is evolving to accommodate more flexible patterns. The technology certainly is.
I know there are additional barriers for flexible workers who are trying to progress their career. I have reached a ceiling in two jobs where I have been told I can only progress if I am in the office more or work more hours. So I am forced to move job and progress that way. It seems a shame.

NoMudNoLotus Thu 30-Nov-17 22:26:30

It just isn't feasible in some areas of the NHS.

I had to turn down a request 2 weeks ago because the pattern requested just would not have met service need or been fair to the team.

I say this as a mum myself ( with no family nearby to help ) but increasingly we have seen mums return from maternity leave , not having given thought to childcare arrangements , thinking it is acceptable to put all the responsibility onto their manager to meet their childcare needs.

VelvetSpoon Fri 01-Dec-17 01:18:14

Most employers in the legal/ insurance aren't interested in offering flexible working. You might manage to negotiate working less, so 2-3 days a week. But if you want compressed hours, or just a bit of give and take to work from home occasionally when you've got an emergency like a leaky boiler, or you want to go 30 mins early to get to a GP or dentist appointment, you've got no chance unless you want to go cap in hand tugging your forelock for the great honour of leaving early or coming in late.

17 years ago I worked for an insurer who operated flexi time. Best thing ever. None of the bullshit putting names in a late book that my current employer thinks is the appropriate way to motivate staff, some of whom have 20-30 years experience...

TellMeItsNotTrue Fri 01-Dec-17 03:22:34

There aren't enough flexible jobs available, and jobs during school hours are like gold dust sad

People wonder why a lot of households have a stay at home parent now, but I don't think it's surprising when you consider the small amount of cash the job would bring in (because it's cancelled out by childcare fees and lower benefits) compared to the added stress (what if child is ill, after school club havent got a space where can DC go that will include taking them from school to there, what about school holidays and inset days....)

It's a crying shame because the employers are missing out on some highly talented employees. There needs to be more give and take, if you treat your employees well and work with them when you can, then they will put more of an effort in as they feel appreciated

Alison175 Fri 01-Dec-17 07:59:53

I once worked in a large finance office, of my 20 people 1 woman had two small children, she really took the piss, first pick of holidays, not turning up, numerous calls home or to dh, came late, left early, no concentration and had quite a senior position, I had to check her work secretly, as her errors could have been catastrophic, she was eventually made redundant, which she didn't take well.

Fast forward a couple of years we got really busy, I was ultra resistant to taking on young Mothers, but did and we had a few which were totally brilliant, did the job and were totally competent and took the work seriously.

It just shows one bad apple can wrongly effect your judgement of a group.

wejammin Fri 01-Dec-17 08:18:34

I work flexibly and have since dc1 was born 6 years ago. I'm in the legal sector. When I submitted my application it was pages and pages long, because they'd never said yes to anyone before and I didn't want to give them any reason to say no. They agreed to me working 4/5 of my hours with 1/5 worked over evenings and weekends, meaning I'm only in the office 3 days. They initially agreed as a 3 month trail but it works so well it was never discussed again for years. DH then got the same arrangement as full time hours but 1/5 in evenings so he gets a day at home too (our youngest is still pre-school). He's also in the legal sector.
When my firm was going through a bad patch they did use it against me and tried to use it as a reason to cut my pay (with no justification, my figures were good). I left that firm and got a new job with the same hours. Every working mum at my new place does flexible hours and it works really well. We are however in a very low paid area of law and there's a small pool of solicitors doing the job so our skills are in high demand which helps.
The biggest problem I find is that I do feel stuck to this job because I'm so grateful for the flexibility. If I was full time I think i might have moved more and progressed more as a result. Plus I don't get a lot of downtime as I work when the kids are in bed.

sah2241 Fri 01-Dec-17 09:24:35

I don't have a formal flexible working arrangement in place, but my employer is happy for me to manage my own time as long as the work gets done. So I often drop my daughter to school, then start late at 9.30am, or leave early to collect her. I can also work from home which helps immensely as my office is about an hour's drive from our house. It is give and take though - I do make up the hours in the evenings or at weekends, and tend to check my emails and deal with urgent things when I'm on leave, so overall I do more than my allocated hours and it can be hard to get a proper break. On balance it works for me and I'm very grateful to have the flexibility.

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