In my earlier post 12 essential steps to plan your return to paid work with confidence, Step 8 is Flexible Working Rights.
Let’s start with the basics.
Who is entitled to flexible working rights?
Last summer (as of 30 June 2014), the UK law changed.
Flexible working is no longer reserved for carers or those looking after children. All employees now have the right to request flexible working. The caveat is that you need to have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks. Download my free Flexible working worksheet for more information and additional resources.
However this doesn’t mean that you must wait 26 weeks before you can request flexible working. You can of course request flexible working before you start employment. The law simply means that you have the right to request after 26 weeks and your employer must handle your request in a ‘reasonable manner’. The government guidelines suggest that a ‘reasonable manner’ includes:
- assessing the advantages and disadvantages of the application
- holding a meeting to discuss the request with the employee
- offering an appeal process
In other words, your employer cannot dismiss your request without demonstrating that they have given it due attention and thought.
What is flexible working
Flexible working is a way of working to suit the employee’s needs. There are many forms of flexible working. For example:
- Job share
- Work from home for some or all of your hours
- Work at an alternative location for some or all of your hours/days – perhaps your employer has a head office and an office nearer to home
- Part-time or reduced hours
- Compressed hours i.e. the same number of full-time hours over fewer days e.g. instead of 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, you could suggest 8am to 5.30pm, Monday to Thursday
- Flexitime – where you work agreed core hours e.g. always in the office between 10am and 3pm, and choose start/end time
- Annualised hours – work a certain number of hours per year with flexibility as to when those hours are worked
- Staggered hours – different start, finish and break times
- Phased retirement (maybe not for mums returning from a career break but flexible working is open to all)
- Shift work – organising within your team who covers the early/late shift to suit the needs of the team
How do I request flexible working
Depending on the relationship that you have with your employer, your manager or your team, you might want consider sounding out your request before putting it in writing.
- You can only make one request in 12 months.
- Requests need to be made in writing stating what change you are seeking, when you want to start and how you think this will affect the business.
- State that it’s a statutory request.
- State if and when you have made a previous request.
Before you put your request in writing, think about it your employer’s point of view so that you can counter as many objections before they are made. For example
- What will the commercial and operational impact be?
- What will the effect be on the rest of the team?
- How will it affect your clients?
- What about busy periods/seasons?
Finally give consideration as to how you can mitigate or lessen the impact? It makes for a good business case if you are able to suggest solutions to your employer.
You might find this article by Nici Jupp at Talent Gateway helpful: it talks about flexible working from the employer’s perspective.
What happens next?
Your employer will need time to consider your request. According to the law, the employer needs to make a decision within 3 months – they can take longer if this is agreed with you. If the request is agreed to, the terms and conditions in your contract will need to be changed.
If your request is rejected, the employer needs to give you the business reasons for the refusal.
Never too soon to start planning
If you are a mum who’s taken a career break, and now you want to go back to paid work, these 12 essentials will get you started on the journey to go back to work with confidence. It’s never too soon to start planning.
Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t know where to start? Lack confidence? Need help?
If you know you WANT to go back to work, but you also know that you NEED SOME HELP, book a call to find out how I can help you. I may be just what you need, especially if you’ve reached that stage of trying to work it out on your own – go back to your previous career, change career or start a new business – and you’re just feeling completely overwhelmed or driving yourself nuts going round and round in circles AND you’re also smart enough to know that the best plan is to get some help, let’s talk. Click here to find a time that works for you.
I designed The Confident Mother Experience to help you identify the exact steps you need to take, when AND in which order. You will update your LinkedIn profile, refresh your CV, start networking, get clarity on what’s most important to you, and create a realistic and positive action plan to go back to work with confidence.
I am here to support you every step of the way. Most months I run free online training on this and similar topics – don’t miss out – sign up here, and I’ll send you a reminder in advance.