Verbal agreement on flexible working withdrawn

I submitted a request for flexible working at the beginning of January, reducing my role from five days to three following maternity leave. My employer responded advising the days I had requested were not favourable and offered me an alternative working pattern. By return I gave another three-day week pattern for review and heard nothing at all for two weeks, having chased and chased.

Finally, they rang and I was advised that after further review they have decided that my role is in fact a five-day-a-week role so part time is no longer feasible. They also advised that as the role has evolved prior too and during maternity leave this is why it has been decided that it must be five days. My role did change prior to maternity leave, but nothing was ever put in writing and my contract never changed.

They have now advised that they will investigate if there is a suitable alternative for me three days a week which in my view is unlikely and or they would think about a job share and advertise internally and externally for someone to fill the additional two days.

I wanted to return to work in March and now this seems impossible unless one of the above criteria is filled. There is no explanation as to how long the recruitment process will be and I am just expected to wait until further notice as to if and when this is an actual possibility.

Where do I stand? I feel that three days was initially agreeable and then all of a sudden they have changed their minds.

Office desk with note saying "flexible working"


“I would suggest that you raise an appeal under the return to work or flexible working policy of your employer, or if the policy does not allow for this, you could consider a formal grievance setting out how an initial agreement was reached with HR and your line manager.

As set out in the details of the legislation, there are eight grounds on which a formal flexible working request can be turned down. You should request confirmation of the reason that your employer is relying on and get further explanation about the change to your role and why this cannot be carried out on a three-day-a-week basis. They are required to give you this information. You could also consider a trial period to allow you to return to work in March.

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