Whether we have young children, elderly parents, evening classes or simply a long commute, many of us can benefit from more flexible working.

Flexible working can take lots of different forms, including working from home, job-sharing, compressed hours and term-time working.

All employees have the right to request flexible working arrangements, as long as they have been with their employer for at least 26 weeks. You don’t have to be a parent or carer to request this kind of change.

Your employer is legally required to consider your request, but they can refuse it on certain business grounds (e.g. if it causes extra costs, or if they can’t recruit the extra staff required).

Many good employers will offer better flexible working rights than the legal minimum. These should be included in your contract of employment or your staff handbook. If you have a union rep, you can ask them for help with your application.

When requesting flexible work arrangements, make sure that what you’ve agreed is clear and recorded in writing. You should also consider how your request might affect other parts of your working life, such as take-home pay and holidays.

Remember that any change you negotiate to your contract terms will be permanent, unless you agree something different with your employer. If you want to trial the arrangement first before it becomes permanent, make sure you agree this clearly. 

Common
questions
Do I qualify to have my request for flexible working considered?
The right to request flexible working is available to all employees who have 26 weeks' continuous service with an employer and have not made a previous application during the previous 12 months.
How should I go about making a request for flexible working?
You should make a formal request to your employer. But it may be worth starting with an informal conversation with your line manager.
Under what circumstances can my employer refuse my request for flexible working?
Your employer may only turn down a request for flexible working on one or more of a number of ‘business’ grounds...