Flexible working

What is flexible working? 

Flexible working is a way of working that suits your needs, for example having flexible start and finish times, job sharing, or working from home.  

Who can request flexible working? 

Although new laws have been passed to make it easier to ask to work flexibly, these changes won’t happen until 2024 so for now the rules remains the same meaning:  

  • You need to have been in your job for at least 6 months before you can make a flexible working request 
  • You can only make a flexible working request once a year 
  • You need to explain how you working flexibly will affect your employer 
  • You might no be given the opportunity to discuss your request before it’s turned down 
  • You could wait up to 3 months for your employer to give you a decision about your request. 

You are only entitled to make a flexible work request if are legally classed as an employee. Via this page from Citizens Advice you can Check Your Employment Status 

If you have a disability or health condition and working flexibly would help to support you to stay in work, flexible working may be a reasonable adjustment your employer could make. This wouldn’t be covered by the same rules as above but you will still need to speak to your employer about what adjustments they can make. 

From 2024 the new rules will come into effect meaning you will:

  • Will be able to make a flexible working request from the first day in your job 
  • Will be able to make 2 flexible working requests per year 
  • Won’t have to explain how you working flexibly will affect your employer 
  • Will have the chance to discuss your request with your employer before a decision is reached, meaning it will be easier to find agreement that works for you 
  • Will get a decision sooner, no longer than 2 months. 
  • It’s important to remember that, even though you ask for flexible working, your boss doesn’t have to agree. 

Some employers may decide to follow these rules earlier but they do not have to.  

What kind of flexible working can I do? 

You might want to: 

  • reduce your hours to work part time 
  • change your start and finish times  
  • have flexible start and finish times 
  • do your hours over fewer days (compressed hours)  
  • work from home or elsewhere (remote working), all or part of the time 
  • share the job with someone else 

You can ask for the change to be for: 

  • all working days 
  • specific days or shifts only 
  • specific weeks only, for example during school term time 
  • a limited time, for example for 6 months only 

There is a really helpful guide here from Working Families to work out the best new pattern to ask for, including a prioritisation exercise and how to calculate any changes to your pay.

What are some examples of flexible working?

Jas is a lettings agent.
She works staggered hours so that she can care for her mother in the mornings.
She works from 11:30am – 7:30pm but most of her colleagues work from 9:30am – 5:30pm.   

Abi is an administrator, sheworks compressed hours, partly from home
She works full time hours (37.5) spread across 9 days which works out to 8.3 hours per day.
She has every other Monday off and uses the day to catch up on life admin.
She works mostly from home, with Tuesdays and Wednesdays in the office.

How can I request flexible working?

Your request for flexible working needs to be made in writing – you can use this template letter from ACAS

Before making a decision your employer should set up a meeting with you to talk about your request. You can ask to bring someone to this meeting (a colleague or a trade union representative) but your employer doesn’t have to agree to this.

At the meeting you can talk about the reasons you want this change, how any problems might be dealt with, and suggest some other options if the change is not possible.

To prepare for the meeting you could prepare possible solutions and compromises, you could also speak to colleagues who already work flexibly to find out what works well.  

Working Families have put together some Negotiation Tips to support your flexible working needs.

And they have a Webinar Recording for you to watch.

You could also speak to a Work It Out coach to help with creating a positive and solution focused mindset for a meeting like this:

Speak to a Work It Out Coach

What next?

Your employer must make a decision within 3 months of you making a flexible working request.

If they do not agree there is information from ACAS about appealing their decision.