Flexible Working

Caragh Bailey
02/02/2021
Flexible Working from Employment Law Friend

What is meant by flexible working?

Flexible working is any working pattern which is different from your current one, or the usual working pattern for your job. It enables you to make your work possible around your other responsibilities and commitments, or to make your work meet your needs for a better work life balance.

What are examples of flexible work arrangements?


Arrangement
Example
Changing from full time to part time
You currently work a 40 hour week, Monday to Friday. You want to change to working 24 hours over four days.
Moving the hours that you work
You have a part time job working 20 hours during the week. You would like to work these hours over the weekend instead, so you can teach a yoga class on weekday afternoons.
Moving your working hours to fit in with school, college or care arrangements
You work 9-5 four days a week (32 hours). You would like to work 9-3 five days a week (32 hours) in order to fit in with your child's school hours.
'Compressed hours'
You work 9-5 Monday to Friday. You would like to work the same number of hours, 8-6 four days a week, giving you a three day weekend.
Flexitime
You work 9-5 Monday to Friday. You have been on Maternity leave. You would like to work the core hours of 11-4, when you have child care, and fit your remaining three hours per day around your baby's needs and sleeping pattern. You will work for a total of three hours between the hours of 7-11am and 4-10pm.
Working from home or remotely for part or all of the time
You work in an office. You find that you are wasting up to two hours per day in traffic on your commute. You would like to work from home, or from a coffee shop near your house four days per week, and will work from the office on Mondays, when team meetings will be scheduled.
Job sharing
Your adult children have left home and you have downsized to become mortgage free. You no longer need to work full time and would like to reduce your contract from to part time for a better work-life balance. Your colleague also wants to reduce their hours to spend more time on their own small business. Your employer agrees that the two of you can split one full time contract into two part time positions. They promote a junior member of staff to fill the other position.
Self-rostering
Often this is a decision which affects all employees. In a shift working role, your employer allows your whole team to request the shifts that suit them best, and then schedules the roster to try and please everyone.
Staggered hours
Most employees work with the same start, finish and lunchtimes. You would like to continue working the same day pattern but to start, finish and break an hour earlier than your colleagues, meaning that the phones are always covered, you avoid peak traffic times, and have a longer evening after work.
Time off in lieu
You work in retail and there is high staff demand during the Christmas period. Your Salary is based on a 40 hour work week, through December you work 60 hours per week. Your overtime hours will be given as time off in lieu (extra holiday) when demand is lower.
Annualised hours
You work a 35 hour week. You would like more flexibility to pursue your hobbies. Your employer agrees for you to work less some weeks and more on others, as long as over the year you average out at 35 hours per week.
Term-time work
You have children in school. You request to work term time only so that you can enjoy more time with them during their school holidays.
Phased Retirement
You have reached the state pension age, but you do not wish to retire. You request to change or reduce your working hours instead.
Your employer can refuse your flexible working request if they have a good business reason to do so, but they cannot force you to retire except for in specific circumstances related to safety.


Is flexible working a legal right?

Yes. Anyone can make a statutory flexible working request, as long as:
  • You’re legally classed as an employee (check your employment status)
  • You are at least 26 weeks into your current job
  • You haven’t made any other flexible working requests in the last 12 months

What are the rules on flexible working?

If you meet the above criteria your employer must:
  • Handle your request fairly and reasonably
  • Assess the advantages and disadvantages of the requested change
  • Hold a meeting to discuss your request with you
  • Offer an appeal process, in case they refuse your request and you want to appeal their decision
  • Follow the ACAS code of practise on flexible working requests

If you don't meet the above criteria, you can make a non-statutory request. Your employer is not legally obligated to consider your request, if they do, it is at their discretion.

However, they may have a flexible working scheme which has better rules than the statutory ones, for example they may allow you to make a request, regardless of how long you have worked for them. If they have such a policy, they must honour it.

Requesting flexible working


    1
    Write a letter to your employer
Include:
  • What flexible working change you would like to make.
  • When you want to make the change (i.e. all the time, on certain days).
  • When you want the change to begin.
  • When you want the change to end, (if applicable).
  • Any affects that your flexible working request might have on the business and how you will resolve them.
  • Any benefits that your flexible working request might have on the business, (i.e. save office costs).
  • Any benefits that your flexible working request might have on your co-workers, (i.e. more space/resources available for them at work).
  • Any way that your request is supported by The Equality Act 2010, (i.e. This is a 'reasonable adjustment' for your workplace to make to accommodate your illness or disability).
  • The date of any previous flexible working requests you have made.

    2
    Your employer can take up to three months to consider
    (Or longer if you agree)

    3
    Your contract of employment is changed
If the changes affect your contract, your employer must give you their decision in writing, it is good practise to write up a new contract which reflects those changes.

    OR
    Your employer must give you the business reasons for their refusal, in writing
If you think that your employer has not handled your flexible working request in accordance with the ACAS code of practise, you can appeal their decision in writing, or bring a claim to the tribunal. Contact us to find out if you have a legal case.

Frequently Asked Questions
Your request can be for a permanent change, or for a temporary change.
For example, you might want to make a permanent change to your contract; or, you might want to work Flexi-time for 18 months, to support your partner who is returning to work after their maternity leave. You will return to your normal working pattern when the baby begins nursery, at the age of two.

If you are making a permanent change, you may agree on a trial period with your employer, to see how the new working arrangement affects things.
Your employer is obligated to fairly consider any statutory flexible working request if you meet these criteria:
  • You’re legally classed as an employee (check your employment status)
  • You are at least 26 weeks into your current job
  • You haven’t made any other flexible working requests in the last 12 months

Your employer must then:
  • Handle your request fairly and reasonably
  • Assess the advantages and disadvantages of the requested change
  • Hold a meeting to discuss your request with you
  • Offer an appeal process, in case they refuse your request and you want to appeal their decision
  • Follow the ACAS code of practise on flexible working requests

If you think that your employer's refusal of your request might have been discriminatory, check the following article:
Then, contact us, with a brief outline of your case.

Has your flexible working request been refused without good reason?
There is much more to winning your case than simply being in the right, our specialist employment solicitors know all the laws and tactics, to make sure you get the best chance at a fair settlement. If you think your flexible working request was denied unfairly, or due to discrimination, get in contact with us and see how we can help.

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