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Flex time for new parent

Expert: Carol Ferguson

Mary Lou Horton asked:

Due to an impending pregnancy the employee would like to have flexible working hours, he would like to remain at full salary. He is a technical lead and there is some travel, (very minimal) in his job. He would like to schedule this from the time the infant is born and the duration is one month. If he got his wish it would be that he would work 3 days at home and 2 days at the office. Could you tell me the protocol for coordination and communication in this situation?

Carol Ferguson answered:

Most progressive, best practice organizations have had flexible/alternate work arrangement policies/guidelines for a number of years now. Telecommuting and virtual offices are the future and certainly here to stay.

A company's willingness to provide flexible work arrangements is at their discretion. There's nothing to say that you have to grant this employee his request. However, I don't see any downside to your organization, as he's not asking to work less hours, just work in a different location 3 days a week for 4 weeks.

On the up side of the equation, your company looks like a great employer who provides customized, flexible working arrangements for their employees. On the potential down side, you might be concerned that you will receive other requests from employees that you don't want to fulfill. My feeling is, that unless there is a very compelling reason why the company shouldn't grant the request (eg: pre-existing performance concerns, travel requirements, staffing requirements, etc.), this sounds like a very reasonable request.

Another down side to not considering this arrangement is that the employee might end up taking the time off work all together due to personal stress and/or illness and you could find yourself paying a full salary, if youprovide a short term benefits package.

As there doesn't appear to be a reduction in work hours, no salary adjustment is/would be required.

Communicating the approval of the request should be spun to the employer and employee's advantage, emphasizing the benefits to both. In my experience, I have not encountered "unique" technical industry policies with respect to flexible work arrangement. Typically, there are overall company guidelines.

Another consideration for the employee/employer is a parental leave of absence, which includes salary benefits through EI. Parental legislation varies by province and whether or not an organization is federally or provincially regulated. If a company has not administered a parental leave before, there are many things to consider. You should contact the provincial/federal Ministry of Labour to clarify policies and obligations and/or check with an employment lawyer.

Editor's note: Under Ontario Labour Laws an employee is entitled to take up to 37 weeks of continuous unpaid parental leave. You can learn more here:

Under the Employment Insurance Act an employee who applies for parental benefits may qualify for up to 35 weeks of wages. For more information visit:

About the author

Carol Ferguson is the Vice President of TOWHEY Consulting Group Inc. which assists small and medium sized businesses with their human resources needs and concerns. You can find the TOWHEY Consulting Group online at

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