Flexible Work request?

Is this a flexible working request?

A member of the admin team is contracted for 15 hours per week working these across 2 days, which is what the post was advertised as and what the service requires. 

The employee has been working at home through lockdown, but June onwards we will be bringing staff back for a % of their contractual working hours to be worked from site base. They have requested that on the 1 day a week they are on site, they leave base at 2pm to pick up children from school at 3.15pm and then log back on and finish working from home. The employee states that they cannot afford to pay for the children to attend the afterschool club. Technically this would mean approx. 90 minutes out of the working day, but with the time not being made up due to childcare commitments. The supervisor has raised that this means they will not be available to take telephone calls (we are a very busy service and this person is first point of contact) and would also be unable to provide admin support to team members if it was requested and it would fall to themselves or another team member to cover. In addition, the supervisor has also raised that the employee will not do certain tasks at home because of confidence etc. 

Due to the nature of the service, it would be difficult to alter the working pattern of this staff member, but I was just wondering what processes would be best to follow under these circumstances, particularly around the childcare issue? 

  • Yes its a flexible working request so just go through the steps of that process and make a fair decision
  • In reply to Keith:

    Hi Lindsey I always ask employees to make a formal request following the guidelines on the government website. There is a form they can use if you/ they prefer www.gov.uk/.../the-right-to-request-flexible-working-form.

    This sets out how they can acknowledge the effects on the business of their request and suggest ways these can be managed. Working Families also has some good advice for employees.

    Once you have this information you can better assess the request. For example, they may suggest a colleague covers the phones at this time. You can then make a decision on whether that is a reasonable suggestion or would not be fair/ practical.

    It might also be good to understand from him why this is now an issue and is it a permanent situation- maybe his normal childcare is not available and he needs to use more expensive care, his partner used to do this care but due to covid has a different job etc. Or perhaps a family member used to do this and may be able to do so again when restrictions are lifted. Of course his childcare costs and arrangements are ulimately his responsibility, but if it were a short-lived change rather than permanent it may be something the business could agree for a specified period.
  • In reply to Gail:

    Great approach Gail

    It clearly helps makes person to understand the impact on the company and coleagues and the fact that that they have a reponsibility to make practical suggestion as to how what they want to happen could  be made to work