All employees with more than 26 weeks’ service have the right to request flexible working arrangements. This can be especially important for working mums, dads and carers.

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

If you’re going to request flexible working, an informal conversation with your line manager might be a good place to start. Your union rep can also help you with your application.

Once you’ve made the request, your employer is legally required to consider it. But they can refuse to grant flexible working 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.

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 to your contract terms will be permanent unless you and your employer agree something different.  You could consider asking your employer whether you can try out the new arrangements first, to see how they will work out.   

Are you a rep? You can find more practical advice on a range of workplace issues in our support for reps section

Common
questions
I’ve got a young family and would like to change my work patterns. What are my rights?
As long as you are an employee, and you have been working continuously for your employer for at least 26 weeks, you have the right to make a request to work flexibly.
How should I go about making a request for flexible working?
Before making a formal request, think about whether you might be better starting off by making an informal approach to your line manager.
What should my employer do when they get my flexible working request?
Your employer must consider your request and arrange to discuss it with you as soon as possible.
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.