I returned back from maternity and was granted flexible hours. I put my proposal of job share and I was granted 22.5 hours working time. Since I have been back it’s been nightmare. They allowed me to work 22.5 hours, but they never employed the other manager to cover the days when I’m not there which means everything is on me and after months I am greatly overloaded with work with very little support plus the performance of my department is low and not hitting budgets (I expressed my opinion that I am alone and it’s unfair to expect me to do the same job as full time managers for less money as I get paid only half). My line manager has now said she will not recruit a new manager to support me as there are only two months left until my review date. My question is: can they force me to go back full time ? Can they say it’s not working out due to the budget and that I can’t do it on a part-time basis ? Can they terminate the new part-time contract and put me back on the old one? We agreed there would be job share. I never said in my proposal I can do this on my own. It’s unreasonable. There are full-time managers not being able to do the job I do over part-time hours.
This advice depends on how your arrangement has been formalised.
If you signed a new part-time contract then it would be difficult for your employer to force you to return to a full-time role without your consent as this would be a unilateral change of your contract.
If you are working under your original full-time contract with an agreement to job share/ flexible working much will depend on the nature of the agreement.
There are two types of flexible working requests that can be made, a statutory request or non-statutory request. Employers are legally obliged to respond to a statutory request and there are formalised procedures that must be followed. There are no set procedures for non-statutory requests.
If the request for flexible working/ reduced hours was granted without a trial period, then this is deemed to be a permanent change to your contract unless it was agreed that this change would be temporary. It would be difficult for your employer to change this without your consent.
If there is a trial period in place and your employer decides it is not working out, then you will be required to return to your former working arrangement. You can then re-submit a request for flexible working. However, this may have to be a non-statutory request depending on when your statutory request was submitted.
Overall, the agreement that you currently have in place (be that through a new contract or flexible working arrangement) is not being met by your employer. You are being asked to complete the work of a full-time worker whereas you had agreed part-time hours. It could be argued that there is a breach of contract by your employer. You should consider raising a formal grievance with your employer regarding your employer’s refusal to employ a new manager to job share with you.
You have a review in two months’ and the fact that your department is not meeting its targets may be discussed. This is arguably a direct result of the flexible working arrangement not being fulfilled by your employer by your employer failing to hire a new manager. Therefore, if your employer states that you are failing to carry out your role effectively, you can explain that this directly due to the part-time flexible arrangement not being fulfilled.
If you are dismissed, you may be able to argue discrimination, however this would depend on the flexible working arrangements provided by your employer to other employees. You would need to show that you were being treated less favourably due to your gender.