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How to request flexible working Flexible working is a way of working that suits an employee’s and employer's needs.

Flexible working

If you’ve worked for the same employer for 26 weeks or more, it’s likely you have the right to request flexible working. But this doesn’t mean your employer must give it to you. So it’s important you do some preparation before you request it.

  • Statutory or non-statutory

    There are two types of flexible working - non-statutory and statutory, these are explained in broad terms here:

    Non-statutory request: A non-statutory request for flexible working isn’t governed by law. If your employer has an internal procedure around flexible working, follow it. If they don’t, you may want to consider some of the ideas we provide later. 

    A non-statutory request might work for you if you’re not covered by flexible working legislation. You might also want to make a non-statutory request if you’re not sure if flexible working is for you, and you just want to try it out. Or if you want to work flexibly but only for a short time.

    Statutory request: A statutory request for flexible working is governed by law. If you make this kind of request, you need to put your request in writing and your employer must discuss it with you before they make any decision.

  • Flexible hours

    Hours of work: You choose when to start and end your day, but you commit to working during core hours, usually 10am – 4pm.

    Compressed hours: Working flexibly can mean you work in a different way, from a different place, or at a different time to what’s normal.

    Job-share: You share the work and pay of a single full-time job with someone else.

    Working from home: This could mean you work almost entirely from home or you split your time between your workplace and your home. Or you might go into work most of the time and only work from home sometimes.

    Annualised hours: You work your contracted hours over the course of the year but the actual hours you work change from week to week or month to month.

    Term-time work: You only work during school term times so that you're free during school holidays.

  • Get help with your request

    Contact your HR department for information on flexible working, this is particularly important if you’re unable to make a statutory request.

    If your organisation has an employee-led network for diversity and inclusion, it may be a good source of information and support on working flexibly. The network will usually be aware of your employer’s practices. ACAS can also provide you with information and advice on flexible working and has a legal helpline. And if you’re a parent, the charity Working Families can give you information and advice around flexible working.

    This information about statutory and non-statutory flexible working at Citizens Advice.
  • Write your request

    When writing your request you need to include the following information:

    1. Explain why you want to work flexibly.
    2. Outline what type of change to your working pattern you’re asking for.
    3. Specify how long you want to do this for. It can be for the foreseeable future or for a specific period of time.
    4. Identify any impact on your employer and your colleagues.
    5. Explain how you and your employer or team could manage the impact.
    6. State that you’re making a statutory request for flexible working. If you’ve requested flexible working in the past, mention the previous requests you’ve made and their dates. 
  • Arrange a meeting about your request

    Arrange a meeting with your line manager or HR team to discuss your request. And to improve your chances of being successful, do some work to prepare for your meeting. 

    Work through the implications, thinking about what your proposed change will mean for your team, and your organisation, if you change your working patterns. But also try to think about any issues your manager may be concerned about so you can address them. Show how the change will work in practice.

    Be clear about how flexible working will benefit your wellbeing and so your performance at work.

    Don’t go into your meeting with a closed mind. Showing you’re flexible and willing to explore options will help to increase your chances of your request being approved.

  • Deal with the decision

    They say yes: Once you’ve agreed a flexible working pattern with your employer, talk through the potential impact on colleagues and think about ways to help them transition. If you’re happy to share the reason you’re moving to a flexible work plan, do. If they understand the reasons for your change they’re more likely to support you.

    They say no: Your employer should explain why they've turned down your request and more often than not one of the following reasons will be given:There’s not enough for you to do during the hours you’re proposing to work

    • It will be difficult to meet customer demand
    • Quality or standards will suffer
    • Your performance will suffer
    • It isn’t possible to reorganise your work among co-workers
    • They’re planning structural changes
    • You working flexibly will cost them money
    • They won’t be able to recruit more staff to cover

    If you feel your request has been unfairly refused, depending on the circumstances you could try the following.

    • Make an appeal
    • Raise a grievance
    • Make a discrimination claim
    • Refer your request to ACAS or the Labour Relations Agency 
    • Claim constructive dismissal
    • Make a claim to an industrial tribunal 

    If you want to raise an issue or make a claim, read more about how to do this through Citizens Advice.  

TIP: Make sure you can talk about why you want to work flexibly and how this will benefit your wellbeing and your performance at work.

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