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I am coming to the end of my maternity leave and have been trying to sort out childcare for my return to work in August. Five weeks ago I contacted my employer, first by phone then email, to request a slight movement in my hours (I worked 18 hours a week) to help me with my childcare. He suggested there should be no problem and forwarded it to my supervisor to look at. Two weeks ago I phoned to ask if anything had been looked at as my childminder had contacted me to say she was getting booked up. He said he’d contact my supervisor and I am still waiting to hear, despite me having told him I’d like to sort out my hours as soon as possible. There has been minimal contact from work while I’ve been off and I have a feeling they don’t want me back. I feel it is unfair as I have tried to sort this out in plenty of time so that everyone can arrange things accordingly. If my childminder does get booked up I will be stuck, she can only hold onto my place for so long. Please can you advise me on what my next action should be? Thanks.
There is a statutory procedure laid down in relation to employee requests for flexible working. In summary, on receiving a request for flexible working from an employee (which must be in writing), the employer must adhere to the following timelines:
Employers can decline applications based on several criteria, one of which is the detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand i.e. in your case they would need to objectively justify why they think the job requires previously worked hours if they weren’t prepared to accept your request. So depending on exactly how long it is since you made your request in writing, your employer may not have followed the statutory process (this is the case if it is five weeks since your written request by email was received). It is just possible that your supervisor is not aware of the statutory guidelines (or a company policy on the subject) so I suggest you write a letter and send it by post and as an email attachment outlining your understanding of the statutory guidelines and reminding them that a meeting is required to discuss your request following your written request being submitted on X date.
If following this there was no response, you could lodge a grievance using your company’s grievance procedure since then they are obliged to hold a meeting with you to discuss the grievance, but before doing this I suggest as above that you contact them again informally but clearly stating the dates of your initial request and demonstrating that you were following the statutory procedure and encouraging them to do the same in a constructive way.
Employees are also entitled to ‘Keep in Touch’ (known as KIT days) under current maternity leave statutory guidelines, so it is also of concern that they’ve not made you aware of this entitlement which is designed to keep both parties in touch for the duration. If you have no joy with the above informal approach and do decide to lodge a grievance, it would be worth raising this matter too.
While every care has been taken in compiling this answer, WorkingMums cannot be held responsible for any errors or ommissions. This information is not intended to be a substitue for specific legal advice.