Your essential guide to getting flexible working hours
Going flex can be a mutually-beneficial business decision for you and your workplace.
KNOW WHAT YOU WANT
What’s important to you right now? Is it bathing your baby each night, or having Fridays off for park play? Pin down where you can compromise and what your deal breakers are, before you make your FW request. Even a small degree of flex can be the difference between staying in a job or not, so pursue it.
SELL THE BENEFITS
Don’t just tell your boss ‘I want to be with my baby’, flex works both ways so show how this works for them. Think through potential problems and pre-empt your employer’s concerns. Your FW request needs to demonstrate how your skills are valuable to the company regardless of where, when and how you are working. Ask colleagues who already flex for tips before submitting your request.
Take your organisational skills to another level. Make it easy to switch heads quickly and efficiently, especially if you desire a work pattern that blends home with work. Yes, tots and business don’t always mix but you can minimise chaos with slick routines.
Lose the most unhelpful of emotions – guilt. Trust your childcare decisions and know that your little one is happy and safe so you can concentrate on the job. Ditto at mama time, the wheels at work will keep turning without you.
Your partner’s support is essential to making work work– it’s not just a women’s issue. Can Dad request flexi options too or do nursery pick-ups or drop off? Be a team and share the load of both raising your children and earning the money.
KNOW YOUR WORTH
Go for promotions and request rises when working flexibly – don’t downsize your value as an employee because you’re doing your job in a different way. Avoid describing your schedule as ‘just part time’, or ‘only mornings’.
LOOK AT THE LONG GAME
A new working pattern that suits your family now can change when the tots go to school, and again at teenage years. It’s motivating to think where you want to be in your career 5, 10 and 15 years from now and focus on the building skills that count towards your long-term goals.
REQUESTING FLEXIBLE WORKING HOURS
Joanna Robson, employment law solicitor and founder of babylaw.co.uk, leads us through the flexible request process
- A flexible working request needs to be made in writing, ideally three-four months, prior to your intended return to work date or the date you’d like to start working flexibly.
- Your employer is under a duty to consider the request and will ask you to attend a meeting to discuss it. Following this, they should either agree to it or may refuse it provided there are objective reasons for doing so.
- Their decision should be put in writing, demonstrating that an investigation has been carried out to ascertain whether the flexible working pattern can be accommodated or not.
- An employer may only refuse a request for one of the eight prescribed reasons as set out in the Flexible Working Regulations.
- You can appeal against a decision if you consider it to be unfair or outside one of the prescribed reasons. Your employer will set a timescale but in most cases, you will need to submit your appeal within five working days’ of receiving the decision letter.