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Flexible Working Arrangements Rejected: A Case Study

By: Maggie Lonsdale BA (hons) - Updated: 13 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Working Rights Flexible Company Employer

Before Marie Drysdale, 31, started her maternity leave when she was pregnant with her first child, she was sure that she would go back to work full time after her six-month break.

However, once Marie had her baby, she felt unsure about returning to work full time.

“I always thought that I would be a little bored at home with a baby because I’ve always been really ambitious and driven in my career," Marie explained. "But as the time I was due to go back to work was getting nearer, I just knew that I didn’t want to leave my little baby with a childminder. I couldn’t afford to give up work and I didn’t want to stop work completely either, so I was in a bit of a dilemma.”

Financial Impact

As Marie’s husband has a relatively well-paid job in advertising, the family were able to consider the financial impact of Marie reducing her hours instead of returning to work full time.

“We worked out the costs of our outgoings, including the mortgage, bills, entertainment… all the places our money goes! We knew that we could afford for me to go part time and my husband agreed that it would be good for our little family,” she said.

Marie went back to work full time at the end of her maternity leave because she wanted to make sure that she was sure about the potential changes, but even after the first week, she was certain that part-time work would be better for her and her new baby.

“I just didn’t feel right. I wanted to be looking after my baby. Even though we had found an excellent childminder, I just felt uncomfortable with going back to work.”

Researching Flexible Working Rights

Marie researched her working rights regarding requesting flexible working from her employers – a major transport organisation – and was pleased to note that she was legally entitled to request flexible working.

She made an appointment with her HR director in the first instance, with her request prepared properly in writing, in accordance with the guidelines she had researched. “I wanted to ensure my proposal was as commercially viable as possible, so I put together information on what hours I could do, how they would relate to my colleagues work, what I would be able to do in those hours and how I would make sure the role was well-covered,” she said.

Marie’s HR director listened carefully to her proposal and said that she would get back to her within two days. During those days, Marie continued to work as normal, in the hope that her strong case would mean that she would soon be able to go part time.

Request Denied

However, her request for flexible working was rejected. Marie was called into a meeting with the HR director who explained that her request had been carefully considered, but it was judged that the workload would be too great on her colleagues and that the company did not think that Marie would be able to fulfil her job responsibilities adequately in the time she had suggested.

Marie concluded, “I felt so frustrated. I knew that they did not have to accept my request, and I understood their reasons, but it still made me feel as though I could not continue to work full time. I decided to hand in my notice. I was allowed to leave after one week’s notice and I’m now at home with the baby full time, although I’m looking for part-time work locally. It does mean that we have less money, but as long as the bills are covered, I feel as though I’m doing the right thing for our family.”

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