Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

The NHS – family friendly employer?

The lady of the manor is sadly due to go back to work after her maternity leave in March, of course we’d love for her to stay at home full time but for now at least we do need a second income.

So we started the return to work negotiations.

First, the lady of the manor doesn’t want to go back full time. She’d like to work 2 rather than 3 (12 hour) shifts a week. This gives us enough income but childcare is manageable as one shift will be at the weekend.

Her ward sister said no problem, happy to accommodate. All looking good so far right?

Then the question comes up “what day’s do you want to work?”. The lady of the manor isn’t demanding, she’s pretty flexible, a night at the weekend and a day shift in the week was the simple request.

The response?

And I quote “we can’t guarantee you set days each week”


So with 2 children to put into some form of childcare we have to deal with not knowing more than a month in advance which day of the week she would be working? They do know how nurseries etc work right? You have to put your name down for a fixed day each week, most likely you need to give a months notice to change and no guarantee you will be able to change to a different day.

The government is always banging on about supporting families, helping mothers go back to work and trying to reduce childcare costs. Yet even in the public sector employers don’t appear to be implementing these policies. If we truly are not going to have any certainty in the day being worked does that mean we’ll have to secure childcare for 5 days a week at a cost way above the wage she will earn for 1 day?

Anyone else experienced something similar? After I’ve finished seething I’m going to spend the weekend figuring out what our rights are. Any advice appreciated.


  1. As a parent, she has a right to request flexible working and they can only rely on certain business reasons for refusing her request. They must explain them fully if they refuse. The best thing she can do is put it all in writing, then they have to meet with her to discuss the proposal within a set timescale (can’t remember what that is) and if necessary, negotiate. She has a right of appeal too.

    And yes, it’s a faff but the law is on her side.

  2. yup…i have the same thing. except i generally do my night in the week and day shift at the weekend. Does your wife have a request system at work? We do and largely…they do give me what i request…mostly. My team leader is aware of the days i struggle with (i think) but it doesnt stop me getting the most random of days now and again. I have to swop them or ask nearer the time to change if the numbers are good. Is your wife on PICU? i seem to remember she is.. anyway my unit has the same policy and they will ALWAYS say we cannot guarantee you set days each week. I think it just covers them really…and ive never known it any different and ive been juggling work and kids for nearly 10 years. I think tbh with regard to the flexible working hours..its a bit of a misnomer when it comes to us shift workers…they can get round it by saying you can ask for certain days and they will try to accomodate but cannot guarantee……its not great really but then neither is working for the nhs!!

  3. No advice but do hope you get it sorted.

  4. Thats why i left. Too many people on the ward who have been there far too long get away with whatever they want, but us newbies (i say that having been there 5 years) have to put up with the crap. I have given up nursing because I couldnt get childcare and was told by the boss ‘thats not my problem’. No advice im afraid but i do know what your going through, its really hard. x Hope you find a solution xx

  5. My wife also works for the NHS, & in our experience NHS Managers are almost universally nasty. Having said that she did manage to go down to part time after her maternity leave, at more-or-less set days. They’re being totally unreasonable. I suggest stick at it, if no joy there then maybe consider contacting the BMA. They’ve been really helpful to us in past disputes. Good luck!

    • yep NMC were our next port of call, I don’t think the request is particularly demanding but you can’t manage childcare with no stability

  6. This must be so frustrating and as they need staff every day I don’t understand why they can’t help.

    I have no advice I’m afraid, my friend works for the fire service and they won’t let her work part time at all after maternity leave so after 20 years in the service is giving up her job!

  7. That’s really crap (pardon my French). So basically each month will be one big planning session and then trying to get care for the kids? I hope she gets the days she wants and needs. Sorry, no advice unfortunately (I work in the private sector….at the moment that makes me grateful!)

  8. I suggested to my old employer that I needed to leave work at 5.15 as nursery shut at 5.45 (my old hours were 9-6). My job within the company involved a lot of contact with outside clients (who finished at 5) so my last hour of work was never the most productive anyway and I said I would do work from home. This was not seen as something that could be fitted in. That combined with other problems with going part time meant I had no choice but to leave that job.

  9. Michelle Garrett

    January 28, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Has she thought about locum work (maybe it’s called ‘bank’ work)? I don’t know enough about it but I do know quite a few nurses left to do bank work and are now working in the same hospital with the same colleagues but only in the hours that they can. I think they get paid a lot more but the negative is that it’s less predictable than being on the rota. However, I think they like it because they can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to work when called depending on how convenient it is. Availability probably varies a lot from Trust to Trust.

  10. This is exactly why I have had to remain self-employed so that I can retain some control over when I work. The obvious downside of which is no job security and no maternity leave when number two arrives. I really wish there was more help available for parents. God knows we pay enough tax.

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