What is Flexible Working?

Flexible Working allows employees to make changes, agreed with by their employer, to the hours, days or location at which they work. There are many variations of flexible working, including:

  • Job sharing – Splitting hours and responsibilities of a single job role between two people.
  • Working from home – Completing some or all work from home rather than in the office.
  • Part-time working – Working fewer days per week or fewer hours per day than contractual full-time hours.
  • Term-time working – Working only during term-time and not during school holidays.
  • Compressed hours – Working the same number of hours, but over fewer days.

How do I make a flexible working request?

There has recently been a massive shift in a lot of industries in attitudes towards flexible working, with more employers being open to allowing this. Flexible Working used to be used only by mothers following maternity leave, however, anyone with 26 weeks’ continuous service can now make a request. We are therefore finding others now submitting and working flexibly, including carers, those with disabilities, those looking to retire and have a phased exit and sometimes those who just don’t like to work on Mondays or Fridays.

Danielle advises that the best way to quick start a conversation about flexible working is to firstly speak to your boss informally, running the idea past them and gaging their opinion on your request. You can only make a formal flexible working request once every 12 months, so by checking your boss’ reaction first to the suggestion is advised. This is also a good time to speak to the rest of your team or department, see if they would be happy with these changes or any problems they forsee.

If you don’t feel comfortable speaking to your boss, or if an agreement cannot be reached through informal means, you then need to raise a formal request. This has to be in a specific format, such as it being in writing, stating when you want the changes to take effect from and also the impact you believe that this will have on the rest of the team.

Your employer should the hold a meeting with you which is your chance to speak to them about how this will work, if you haven’t before, and your employer’s opportunity to give their opinion.

If your employer is not willing to grant your request, they must give 1 or more of the 8 prescribed reasons, such as that it would have a detrimental impact on quality or performance or the ability to meet customer demand. If you feel that your request has been unfairly rejected there is no formal right of appeal, however ACAS states that you should be able to defend your request. Claims can be brought to a tribunal if you do not believe your request was dealt with in a reasonable manner, or one of the prescribed reasons for declining were not given.

If your request is accepted, this will mean a change to your contractual terms of employment and you should ask for this in writing from your employer.

Trial periods are now being used, running for a defined period ie one month / 3 months, however, this may cause problem for the employee who needs confirmation of whether their request is acceptable sooner rather than later, for example new parents retuning to work, who are trying to sort a nursery place or childcare. If a trial period is put into place, Danielle’s advice would be to meet with your manager on a regular basis about how the trial is going, making notes on what they say and offering up alternatives or suggestions to make it work, so that at the end of the trial period, the changes are made without any issue.

If you need assistance with any employment law or flexible working issue, contact Gorvins Solicitors on 0161 930 5101, e-mail employmentteam@gorvins.com or fill in our online enquiry form and we will be in touch.

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