How to apply for flexible working
This post is basically for those of you who are returning to work after a period of leave. I deal with many women who are returning to work having been on maternity leave and for those women who want to return flexibly, making a request for it can be daunting.
Legally, anyone who has carer responsibilities can apply to work flexibly, so this advice is for anyone making a request, although I imagine the majority are still those who are returning to work from maternity leave.
Below I have compiled my best hints and tips for making a flexible working request, but if you’re still unsure of how to tackle the task, please contact me and I can help. Good luck!
- If your company don’t have a form, download one from the internet. Most businesses will have their own form but even if they don’t, it’s good to have a guideline. Usually they’ll want to know what your current working pattern is, what you’re proposing and how the work will be done on the reduced hours. Other considerations are what pressure will be put on the rest of the team and how this can be mitigated and also what happens if you’re needed when you’re not working. Think about whether a job share suggestion is viable as this will limit the impact on colleagues if there’s someone doing the job in your absence.
- Remember, your request can only be rejected for legitimate business reasons. They cannot reject your request because they’re worried that others will ask, for example. Legitimate reasons are impact on service, the cost (especially if it’s a small business) or no one else being able to do the work in your absence.
- Find out if anyone else in the company working in a similar role (or in your team) works part time; if they do, precedence has been set and it’s much harder for them to say no.
- Legally, you should be invited to a meeting to discuss your request. Prepare for the meeting, have your answers ready and ensure you have pre-emptied what you think their objections will be. Stay calm and focused and try (although it’s hard) not to be over emotional. Try not to take it personally…for many organisations, it’s hard for them to see how it’ll work and it’s up to you to show them that it can work, with a bit of compromise. Many businesses aren’t deliberately discriminatory – it’s just fear of the unknown.
- If they say no, you will have the right of appeal but also consider whether their reasons for saying no are legitimate. Small businesses in particular find it difficult to accommodate people working part-time as there isn’t the volume of other staff to pick up the excess work. Try to see things from their point of view to determine whether they’re justified in saying no. If you think they aren’t, follow the appeal process and argue your case.