Talking to Your Employer About Flexible Working
Recent government regulatory changes state that all employees are entitled to request flexible working from their employers.
A slight fly in the ointment is that there are very little official guidelines as to what constitutes a formal consideration of flexible working. What there are states that your employer must give your application reasonable consideration and give you details of their views within eight weeks of your application. If they are happy to go ahead with your request, you can take it from there, if not, you are entitled to know why they have turned down your application, but you cannot appeal against it.
Make an AppointmentOnce you have decided to ask for the possibility of flexible working, you will need to talk to your employer. Depending on the size of the company, you may need to start with your HR manager, although it may be preferable to start with your direct boss.
If you are currently on statutory maternity leave and had originally agreed to return to work as normal (in the same manner as before your took maternity leave) but have now decided you would prefer to work flexibly, you need to act in accordance with maternity regulation. This means that you need to give your employers as much notice as possible that you intend to change the terms, ideally eight weeks notice.
If you have returned to work after your maternity leave but some time after have decided you want to apply for flexible working, you are entitled to. Ask to speak to your HR manager or line manager, as appropriate, as explain your feelings.
Do Your HomeworkIn order to gain the most positive outcome you should present your proposal as effectively as possible. Although you are entitled to make the request, you may find that your employer is more favourable to the idea if you have already spent some time addressing what are likely to be their key concerns.
Employer's key concerns over employee flexible working tend to centre on efficiency and control. Sit down and go through the main duties and responsibilities of you role and be objective about the issues you could face - how will you arrange client cover, for example? Can you arrange for calls to be forwarded or dealt with by another colleague? How will you stay in contact with colleagues when you are not working the same hours?
Once the objections have been overcome, you can work on the benefits. Think about the positive impact that flexible working could have on the company or your team in particular. Perhaps you will be able to attend networking meetings at unappealing times to your colleagues, or maybe your hours spent outside 'traditional' working hours will enable you to be more productive.
Present your proposal to your boss or HR manager and give them a précis to keep on file. As you entitled to ask for flexible working but they do not have to grant it to you, why not make your case as convincing as possible?