Standing up for flexible working
When Jenny* applied for her current position, she was told it was a work-from-home job, with a requirement to travel to the office only once a month. But then, not long after accepting the post, she and her colleagues were told they would be expected to travel to the office two days a week.
“I said no,” says Jenny. “That’s not what I agreed to and I wouldn’t have gone for this job if I knew that was going to happen.”
The 26-mile journey is a particular issue for Jenny, who faces barriers to taking long train journeys on her own. But when she submitted a flexible working request to continue her existing working pattern, it was refused. With Accord’s support, Jenny appealed the decision. But the appeal was turned down.
However, Jenny was confident that the employer didn’t have reasonable grounds to reject her request so, supported by Accord and Dallas McMillan, she eventually filed for Acas early conciliation.
Ultimately, the employer backed down and Jenny received a maximum settlement of eight weeks’ pay. Additionally, after making a statutory flexible working request, she was approved for permanent home working with a six-month review.
“But my whole thing wasn’t about the money,” Jenny says. “It was about the principle of this matter.”
Since then, colleagues have been coming to Jenny for advice on their own flexible working requests. Her recommendation to colleagues dealing with disagreements over flexible working is to follow the right procedures when expressing your concerns, starting with an email to your line manager. Then, if nothing comes of it, contact the union for advice. “I must have got about eight people to join the union,” she says.
Jenny was supported by Accord Regional Officer John Dickinson who says: “The learning from this situation is to make sure your case for flexible working is really strong before you put it in. Because if they can’t find a proper reason to decline it, as in Jenny’s case, then they can’t decline it.
*Not her real name