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I Need Work Flexibility


"I desperately need more flexibility with my job so that I can care for my mother.  She is quite fragile, and her need for care comes anytime, day or night. I may need to leave without notice two to three times a week. Is it reasonable to expect my employer to let me leave anytime I get the call?  How do I handle my mother and my job?"​


Since you did not mention what kind of work you do or how necessary your job is minute by minute, I am going to try and fill in some of the blanks.

Many employers would be negatively impacted if staff members left without notice, especially with the frequency you describe.  For instance, waitresses, receptionists, or teachers need immediate replacement if they are suddenly called away.  Two to three times per week is likely too frequent in those types of occupations.

Jobs such as computer programmers, writers, or other positions whose work is not time sensitive may be able to handle an individual disappearing for an hour or two.  Those employees can work later in the day or on weekends to make up the missed time.

The Family Medical Leave Act mandates leave for employees who have worked 12 months, 1250 hours, and provide reasonable notice.  The employer must have at least 50 employees for this law to apply, however, and you will need to meet the test of reasonableness.  I recommend you discuss with your Human Resources department for every detail about this law and how it applies to your situation.

If the need for your attention to your mother’s care is as frequent as you describe, and working is not optional, you will need a job that offers ultimate time flexibility.  A job where you could work from home on your own schedule would be best for you.

Regarding your work situation, most employers are not able to manage the amount of flexibility you are looking for. You are asking to leave work with no notice multiple times a week. If your mother's care needs are as frequent and as emergent as you suggest, you may have a difficult time finding a job that can accommodate such frequent surprises. It sounds as though your mother needs an attendant or supervision when you are working. I would suggest that you discuss your mother's care needs with her and your siblings in order to coordinate coverage while you work, at least until you are able to secure a job with ultimate flexibility.​

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