The legal department of a large multi-national manufacturing organisation.
The employee worked part-time as a secretary for the head of the legal team. She had worked for the company for several years and was away on maternity leave. She had put in a request to work reduced hours on her return and had proposed working from 9-11 am each weekday.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of the urgent work she needed to deal with appeared in the afternoons because of the company’s close connection with subsidiaries and clients in the United States and the differences in the time Zones.
Her proposal was therefore not acceptable because it would have had a detrimental effect on the business’ ability to meet customer demand and there was insufficient work during the time period she had proposed.
Helen Astill met with the employee and the line manager to discuss the issues. She explained to the employee that the company was happy to consider a flexible working request and would be able to cope with a reduction in hours by reallocating some work to others.
However, it was critical to the role that the employee was there in the afternoon to deal with the US queries because of the time zone difference and the fact that this was a major part of the job. They discussed other possible time options and the employee then went away to talk to her childminder to see what could be arranged.
The employee responded with an offer to work from 2-4 pm each day instead, having made arrangements with the childminder with regards to other available sessions. This was acceptable to the line manager and to the business.
It allowed the employee to reduce her hours to accommodate her family responsibilities whilst ensuring that she could undertake the key aspects of her role. A win-win for all concerned.