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Flexible Working and Childcare Issues

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I currently work for a further educationinstitute where in addition to our teaching duties we have administrativeduties too. In 2011 we had a new line manager who introduced a policy of a workfrom home day and I managed to secure a Monday as my work from home day toassist with childcare. This was a scheduled work from home day agreed andtimetabled by the line manager as part of self-managed time but not arrangedvia HR.

 

In late 2012 we had a new HR manager whodeemed that self-maanged time was not a right. The operational needs of theinstitution needed to be put first. I mentioned flexible working arrangementsand was told that this needed to go through HR but I quote " I do not knowthat much about HR policy" and "In twenty years I have not heard ofpeople having time off for childcare"

 

The timetabling for this term was then donein late December and it seemed that I had Monday free so I felt that there wasno need to apply for the flexible working especially since other peoples'requests seemed to have been met too.

 

I then went on annual leave in mid-Decemberand came back to work yesterday (Tuesday). Luckily, I had checked my email atthe weekend and discovered that I had been timetabled for admin duties on theMonday. I emailed the line manager immediately and was told that I should makean official application via HR.

 

I was due to have a meeting regarding courseplanning with the line manager today. However, she needed to postpone it andsuggested next Monday as an alternative date. I reminded her about my application for flexible working. She respondedby saying that the assumption was that until I received official permissionfrom HR that I would come in on a Monday.

 

In the meantime someone else applying forflexible working on childcare grounds has not been told that. Also, otherpeople have had the timetable work out in their favour due to health issues, orthe fact that they work elsewhere on particular evenings even though they arealso on full-time contracts.

 

I feel slightly miffed by the situation buthave I got any grounds to complain about any of this treatment. Unfortunately,I suspect the answer may be no!

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Hello there.

 

I wonder if you could clarify please whether you've made a written request for flexible working? It should help the guys to advise you.

 

My best, HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Sadly I think that although you have clearly been messed around, you have very little room to manoeuvre unless your Monday arrangements were the subject of a formal flexible working request made using the statutory procedure.Have a look at https://www.gov.uk/flexible-working/overview and if you qualify, get a request in. Unfortunately although there is a statutory right to request flexible working, there is no obligation on the part of the employer to agree to it, however a refusable would need to be objectively justified, and if others have been allowed a FWA, then they will have to work hard to do that, although insifficient staff available to carry out essential functions due to others being on a FWA could well be a legitimate reason to refuse in itself!


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I don't know how flexible our working from home arrangement was Blogger but you need to be careful how you word any request. It could be that if you claim that you need to work from home on a Monday because of childcare, your employer has every right to believe that you wouldn't actually be working if you have responsibility for a child at the same time.

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Thanks for the comments and I appreciate the points made. I haven't made the application to HR yet so no nothing is official and yes I take your point EmployLaw about wording it carefully. Luckily, it would seem from other colleagues reports that HR don't necessarily back management blindly and so I might get some good advise from them prior to making the application. Ultimately, I have a young family so if they do force me I will do as they say. I just hope they don't seek retribution in future.

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