I had a flexible working request granted last year upon my return from maternity leave. I am now in a job share and the opportunity arose for additional hours for a two-month period which we both agreed to. However, I have been told I am not eligible for the additional hours due to being in the first 12 months of the job share so instead of splitting the hours they are all being given to my job share partner as they state my contract is a flexible working one, but hers is not so she is eligible but not me. Would additional hours be considered a new flexible working request? I feel discriminated against for having made this application.
I understand that you feel aggrieved because additional hours have been available at your workplace, but you have not been awarded the additional hours. You have been informed that this is because you are in the first 12 months of a job share. You are aware that your job share partner has been given all of the additional hours available.
The provision of overtime is governed by your contract of employment. If there is no provision for overtime in your contract (and there is no established custom and practice relating to overtime) then this is not something that has to be offered by your employer. NB you don’t know whether there is provision regarding overtime in your job share partner’s contract and it may be that she has been awarded the extra hours because her contract provides for this.
Your employer does, of course, have to act fairly and in accordance with the terms of your contract of employment including the mutual term of trust and confidence. In this regard, this means that it should exercise any discretion regarding overtime fairly and in a non-discriminatory manner.
If you feel that the award of overtime has not been done fairly by your employer and that you have lost out in this respect, I would advise you to raise this informally with your line manager or with HR. This should hopefully resolve the matter. If this approach doesn’t resolve the matter, you should consider raising a formal grievance.
You cannot make another statutory request for flexible working for 12 months. This could be what your employer means by advising that you are in the first 12 months of your job share contract. Although you have no legal right to submit a further flexible working request, there is nothing to prevent you from agreeing overtime (and any other change in your contract) with your employer. If you would like to work increased hours, you can of course submit a further flexible working request after 12 months.
*Helen Frankland assisted with this answer.