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Working mums: meet your flexible friend

There’s a new law coming into force this Monday (30th June) which you may or may not already know about. If you know about it, apologies for this post. If not, it might be of some interest to you if like me you are a working mumwho is looking to work more flexibly.

The new law will mean that you, as an employee, will have the right to request flexible working hours from your employer as long as you have worked at the company for 26 weeks. This change in the law means that the law is extended to cover everyone, and not only those employees who have children under the age of 17 (or 18 if the child is disabled) and certain carers.

Employers will have a duty to deal with requests reasonably. A statutory code of conduct has also been published which gives employers guidance on how to handle a request ‘reasonably’. A copy of the guide can be downloaded here: http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1616. In a nutshell it requires the employee who requests a change in working hours to make it in writing. The employer is then required to discuss the proposal with you, following which they must make their decision ‘promptly’.

There is also an accompanying ‘Code of Practice’ which it is worth reading if you are planning on making a request.

How fabulous and exciting. Having spoken to some employment lawyers the proviso to all of this is that if your employer decides not to comply with this statutory request, they won’t be particularly heavily penalised. However, if the proper procedures are found not to have been followed by the employer you could potentially bring a discrimination claim if necessary, although hopefully it won’t come to that.

All in all, it’s all great news. Yes, I thought so, until I wind of a new piece of research which has been conducted by employment specialists, Doyle Clayton, according to which if you do work different hours to other employees you are apparently considered a ‘slacker’:

– If an employee spends at least two days a week working from home, about a fifth (21%) of their colleagues think they are less committed than colleagues who work full time.

– At about a fifth (19%) of employees see colleagues who balance their job with caring for young children as less committed than other workers.

– If an employee works part-time a fifth (19%) of their colleagues will perceive them as being a lot less committed than full time workers.

Seriously??! Well, if I’m honest, it doesn’t surprise me to hear that given the number of times I’ve apologetically sloped into the office slightly late after dropping my kids off at school, or scurried out, hoping not to get noticed, on the dot of 5.30pm so I can get to the nursery in time

Personally though I’m not going to let this detract me from my excitement about this brilliant piece of new law which should make us all feel far more confident about unapologetically asking for hours which allow us to see and spend time with our kids.

 

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