Flexible Working

Flexible Working legislation was introduced into UK Law in 2014 and it is a way of working around your needs - such as your home life.

Employees can make a flexible working request, also known as a statutory request, provided that they have been employed by their employer for at least 26 weeks. This is not an exclusive right to parents or carers and anyone can make a flexible working request.

Making a Flexible Working Request

When making the request, you must ensure that you do so in writing including the following information:

  • the date;
  • confirming that this is a statutory request;
  • how you expect to work flexibly;
  • when you would like to start working flexibly; and
  • how you think your flexible working might affect the business and how you propose that it be dealt with.

You should bear in mind that an employee can only make one application in any 12 months' period. This means that you should make sure that your request maximises your chances of it being accepted and you should also state in the application if and when you last made an application for flexible working.

You should also state what type of flexible working you are requesting. The different types include:

  • part time;
  • working from home;
  • job-sharing (i.e. two people doing the job of one person by splitting the hours);
  • changing working patterns (e.g. working 10am to 6pm instead of 9am to 5pm);
  • compressed hours (i.e. working the same number of hours but over less number of days);
  • annualised hours (i.e. there aren’t necessarily set working hours but there is an annual number of hours that you should work); and
  • phased retirement (i.e. older employees can reduce their hours and when they want to retire as there is no longer a compulsory retirement age).

What's next?

After you have made your request, your employer has 3 months to consider whether to grant it. This means that you should make the request as soon as possible before you wish to start working flexibly. For example, if you are returning from maternity leave, you would want to consider making the request at least 3 months before your expected return to work date.

The Decision

Your employer may accept or reject your request, following due consideration and a process that may even require a meeting with you. Either way, you will be notified of the decision in writing.

If the request for flexible working is accepted, they will let you know what arrangements will be put in place to accommodate the new flexibility. Your contract of employment should also be amended to reflect those changes within 28 days of the acceptance of your request.

Your employer can only reject your request for legitimate business reasons such as:

  • the work not being capable of being redistributed between the other staff;
  • other people cannot be recruited to do the work (e.g. for job share flexibility);
  • there will be additional costs that could be adverse for the business;
  • that the business will be unable to meet customers' demands; or
  • there is no enough work to do during the proposed hours.

Appeal

You can appeal the decision if you are not happy with the outcome, and in this you must follow your employer's procedures in that regard.

If the appeal still does not achieve your desired outcome, you could take this to the employment tribunal. However, please do bear in mind that you should only do so if the process was not handled properly by the employer at any stage or that you were mistreated as a result of making the request.