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A new schedule wouldn’t let me pick up my kids. How do I talk to the boss?

Q: I work in an office in a suburb of Boston. When I was hired four years ago, my hours were set as 8:00am – 4:30pm. My hours are important to me because I have to pick up my daughter at 5:00pm and this gives me enough time to get to her day care with about 5 minutes to spare. Our day care charges extra fees if a parent is just one minute late.

I have a new supervisor who has asked that I work 8:30am – 5:00pm. This would be very difficult for me. How should I handle?

A: Thanks for submitting your question. Hours can be critically important to employees who are often juggling other commitments like children, taking classes, elderly parents or other responsibilities.

My recommendation would be to first request a brief meeting with your new supervisor. Ask him/her if there is a reason your hours need to change, and explain your need to leave at 4:30pm. Most supervisors will understand this need and hopefully accommodate it. What I don’t know is if there are other employees who have asked that they also leave at 4:30pm. Your supervisor may be trying to balance business needs with the needs of employees.

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Some of my clients are very flexible with employees but others are not because of business needs like telephone coverage, store hours or the time of day when the office needs coverage the most. However, most of my clients will try to offer an option that works for both the needs of the business as well as the needs of the employee.

I would explain that you were hired with the understanding of being able to leave at 4:30pm so you are able to pick up your child from daycare. Your supervisor may be able to offer a compromise. Some of the compromises might be – are you willing to work through lunch or can you check emails later that evening?

Good luck with your conversation. I hope you can retain your original schedule.

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