When is it right to ask about flexible working?

As the Government extends the right to request flexible working, a poll by Working Mums shows most people who are applying for a new job think they should bring up the subject at interview.

The vast majority of people feel that prospective employees who wish to work flexibly should bring up the subject at interview, according to a poll by Workingmums.co.uk.
The poll of nearly 1,000 people found that 79% recommended bringing up the fact that you want to work flexibly at interview, with only 6% saying it should be brought up after you have been given the job and 10% counselling waiting until you are a few months into the job.
The question of when to bring up flexible working is one which concerns many mothers looking for a new job. Most employers are open to discussions around flexibility for those who are already in a job, but many fear that they will not be offered a new post if they bring up the ‘f’ word.
One respondent said: “To wait until you’ve been offered the job before discussing flexible working could be perceived as having not been entirely truthful with the prospective employer and cause difficulties in your future working relationship, so always best to be honest upfront!”
Another stated: “You need to be certain of what type of organisation you’re getting yourself into so definitely mention it at the interview.”
Others suggest not being totally upfront about wanting to work flexibly, but dropping enough hints that your situation might require this. One person commented: “At the interview it is best to state one’s situation and the employer should infer that this may give rise to a need to work flexibly. If one requests it at interview I expect that many employers would not entertain it. It should be discussed along with any salary negotiation as soon as the job is offered. If the employer shows resistance it may then be worth considering declining the job as you are in for an arduous and unpleasant battle!”
However, some people think it is better to wait till you are settled in a job. One person said: “Ideally you should bring up flexible working during the interview. However, I personally feel that you should leave it until after you are settled. I spent several years working for employers who refused to hire mothers returning to work and women of ‘child bearing’ age because ‘ their priority is their kids’. I think a parent has every right to ask from the outset. However, realistically they run the risk of not being selected for the role. Perhaps the best things to do would be for employers to state whether the position can be worked flexibly when advertised and applicants can choose to apply or not - that way no one’s time is wasted!”

Comments [1]

  • Anonymous says:

    Companies that do not employee candidates of child-bearing age or have children are discriminating against these mothers who only want the best for their children by going back to work to earn a little bit of income to help support their children. In the times we are living, one-income families are just not surviving – therefore the mothers have to go back to work. If the flexible times are given to mothers that need it then employers will find that the mothers they hire would work harder and get the job done in the time required.

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