Flexible Working

Flexible working is a way of working that suits an employee’s needs such as having flexible start and finish times, or working from home. The government would like to make employment practices in the UK more flexible and family-friendly.

Flexible working allows employees to have a career that fits in with other commitments. By agreeing working patterns that suit both parties, employers are then able to hire and keep the skilled workers they need. This allows them to develop their business and increase productivity. Flexible working is a way of working that suits an employee’s needs.

Flexible working arrangements may include:

  • changing from full-time to part-time work
  • changing the part-time hours that you work
  • adjusting working hours to fit in with, for example, school hours, college hours or care arrangements
  • compressed hours (working your usual hours in fewer days)
  • flexitime, which allows you to fit your working hours around agreed core times
  • working from home for part or all of the time
  • job sharing
  • self-rostering
  • shift working
  • staggered hours (allowing you to start and finish your days at different times)
  • time off in lieu
  • teleworking
  • annualised hours, this means that working time is organised around the number of hours to be worked over a year rather than over a week. Annualised hours work best when there is a rise and fall in workload during the year.
  • term-time work, so you don’t work during the school holidays.

The Right to Request Flexible Working

All employees have the legal right to request flexible working – not just parents and carers. Employees need to satisfy certain criteria before being able to request flexible working:

  • employees must have 26 weeks continuous employment at the date the application is made
  • not be in one of the groups of employees who aren’t entitled to ask for flexible working
  • only one application can be made in a 12 months period

Satisfying this criteria does not mean that your employer has to grant your request but it does mean you have the legal right to ask for it. A request might be a request to work different hours, different times or to work from home.

Making a Request for Flexible Working

When making a request for flexible working employees must:

  • make their request in writing, state the date the request is made, the change to working conditions they are seeking, and the date they would like the change to take effect
  • state whether they have made a previous application for flexible work and the date of that application
  • what change to working conditions they are seeking and how they think this may affect the business
  • if they are making their request in relation to the Equality Act 2010, for example, as a reasonable adjustment for disabled employee.

Employers must deal with requests in a ‘reasonable manner’ and have a statutory duty have completed the process, including any appeals, within three months of the request being made.

If an employer doesn’t handle a request in a reasonable manner, the employee can take them to an employment tribunal.

An employer can refuse an application if they have a good business reason for doing so.

If your employer agrees to your flexible working request, it will mean a permanent change to your contract. However, you can both agree a trial period to make sure that the new arrangements work.

If you don’t want to make a permanent change to your contract, you may be able to negotiate a temporary change with your employer.



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