Although some schools are reopening as usual this fall, an increasing number of districts are pushing for hybrid or virtual learning plans. With more and more companies pushing for employees to return to the office at least in some capacity, these school plans leave many parents without reliable childcare during the work day.

If your company is urging you to return to work, though, don’t lose hope just yet. Depending on your company’s policies and your child’s school situation, you might be able to ask for flexible hours or an extension on working from home this fall. If this sounds like you, here’s how you can ask your employer for flexible hours come September.

Prepare For The Meeting

Whether you’re asking to work from home or just to adjust your hours, you need to prepare before asking your employer for any sort of flexibility. Before doing anything, make sure that you’re well-versed on your company’s flexible work policy (if they have one). You want to make sure that you’re aware of what you can and cannot ask for before you even make your request — otherwise you risk having your request instantly denied.

After you’ve brushed up on any policies about flexible hours that your company already has in place, outline your family’s needs so that you know what to ask for, but also consider your employers needs.

For example, you may want to ask to deviate from your typical 9 to 5 in the office, but you may want to find a way to maintain some core hours that fit within your company’s typical operating hours. This will allow you to still schedule and attend meetings with colleagues without disrupting their schedules.

Also, an article published by MSN recommends that you also plan to share examples of how you’ve successfully managed flexible working hours or working from home in the past. Many employers worry that flexibility will decrease productivity, but these examples may help boost your case.

How To Ask For Flexible Hours

When asking for flexible hours or working accommodations, the organization One Million for Work Flexibility suggests that you schedule an appointment with your manager in advance to discuss the issue. You should prepare a written proposal and provide that to your boss in advance or at the meeting so that they can have all of the needed information about your request.

Once your appointment is on the books, rehearse your pitch and plan out some answers to possible questions your employer may ask. Also, plan a few potential compromises that you could offer, such as a trial run of the proposal or ways that you can provide documentation of your productivity. Just make sure that you don’t offer any ridiculous concessions like forgoing your vacation time and know what you absolutely need for your family.

Show up on time to your appointment and come well informed. An article on Forbes stresses that you should include information about how this flexible working arrangement benefits your employer, not just you. By doing this, your boss will be more receptive to your proposal and be better able to wrap their brain around the idea from a company perspective.

Be respectful of your manager’s time and, regardless of the outcome, be sure to thank your boss for their time and consideration.

What To Try If Your Manager Denies Your Request

If your boss initially denies your request, don’t give up — you still have options. If you feel like your manager was flat-out unwilling to even consider the idea or that you were treated unfairly, you can take your request up the chain or meet with HR to discuss the issue. While this may not guarantee approval, it will help you ensure that your request is well documented and that you receive clear answers on the denial from multiple sources.

If you absolutely need flexibility, consider applying for FMLA or taking advantage of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that’s in place through December 2020. These options will allow you to still collect a salary or even work less hours without leaving your job.

Finally, if all else fails, see if leaving your job is an option. You can look for companies who are hiring remote employees or check into aid options that would be available to you temporarily until you can find an employer that will work with you on your schedule.

Although making a plee for flexibility may feel uncomfortable, especially if you aren’t normally an assertive person, it may be a critical need for your family at this time. As long as you enter the process prepared and do everything in your power to meet your family’s needs, you’ll find a solution that works for you and your family.

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