Flexible working is a way of working that suits an employee’s needs, eg being able to work certain hours or work from home. However it also has to suit the business you work for!
Anyone can ask their employer to work flexibly. Your Employer may have a policy or scheme with more information.
There is also a statutory scheme and this does require 26 weeks continuous service as an employee. The Statutory rules changed on 30 June 2014. You can only make one statutory request every 12 months.
Before the changes in June 2014, only employees who cared for someone (eg a child or adult) had the legal right to ask for flexible working, subject to certain qualifying conditions.
From 30 June 2014, you will be able to request flexible working for any reason; there will no longer be restrictions linked to child or adult care. You may wish to “wind down” towards your chosen retirement age; or take time out to study, for example.
You must put your request in writing and the request must contain certain information (see below for more detail). Your Employer may have some sample letters that can be used. Speak to your Manager or Trade Union rep if there is one. You should be invited to a meeting and you can take a companion with you. This is normally a colleague from work; or it may be a trade union rep.
If the request is refused you should be given at least one chance to appeal the decision.
Please note that it is not a statutory right to be given flexible working, only a right to request it. You are asking for a change to your contract, so do be aware that if the change is agreed, it is likely to be permanent.
If you need a temporary change to your hours for personal reasons, speak to your Employer about it – that is not covered by the Flexible Working rules.
Flexible working is not defined and could mean a range of things, from working part-time; working from home; term time work; annualised hours etc. Remember, you do need to have at least 26 weeks continuous service as an employee with your employer.
Some flexible working options include:
2 people do 1 job and split the hours, perhaps with some overlap for handovers.
Working from home
It might be possible to do some or all of the work from home or anywhere else other than the normal place of work.
Working less than full-time hours (usually by working fewer days).
Working full-time hours but over fewer days.
The employee chooses when to start and end work (within agreed limits) but works certain ‘core hours’, eg 10am to 4pm every day.
The employee has to work a certain number of hours over the year but they have some flexibility about when they work. There are sometimes ‘core hours’ which the employee regularly works each week, and they work the rest of their hours flexibly or when there’s extra demand at work.
The employee has different start, finish and break times from other workers.
The statutory retirement age of 65 has been phased out and older workers can choose when they want to retire. This means they can seek to reduce their hours, come off shifts or work part time.
To request Flexible working you must write to your Employer setting out what changes you would like to make to your work pattern. You should also state when you would like this to come into effect. Note that this will be a permanent change to your Employment Contract unless agreed otherwise with your Employer. You are also expected to put forward your thoughts on how your request can be accommodated by your Employer.
Under the Regulations you can only make one request each year.
The Regulations require your Employer to give your request serious consideration and then reply to you. Obviously if the changes are agreed, there are no problems. Your Employer, or you, may suggest a trial period if it is not clear whether your request can be accommodated.
However if your Employer does not agree to your request, a meeting must take place with you . You should be offered the option to have someone with you at this meeting if you wish – a colleague or your Trade Union Rep. perhaps. At the meeting your Employer may produce good business reasons for saying that your request cannot be granted. You can appeal this original decision, and your appeal should be heard by a different Manager this time. Again you can ask to have someone with you. All of this should take place within a short time period – not specified but “reasonable”!
The whole process should be completed within a three month period. If your Employer is not cooperating and it is taking longer than this, give our help line a call.
If your Employer does not take your request seriously, is slow in dealing with your request, refuses to meet with you etc, call our Advice line for assistance.
Finally your Employer may not know whether your request can be managed. In this situation, ideally, your Employer should consider your request by working on a trial basis, perhaps for a month or two. If, for any reason, this does not work out, at least your employer can point to the fact that they were prepared to give it a try. Put your request for flexible working in writing to your employer and it would help your case if you could say how you think it could work.
Check your contract or Employment Handbook for information on flexible working in your business.