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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, predictable shift patterns and term-time working.

All employees have the right to request flexible working arrangements from day 1 of the job. 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). The Acas Code of Practice sets out how your employer should do this.

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. 

What does flexible working mean, and do I qualify for it?
Flexible working refers to different patterns of working arrangements, including working part time, working from home; job-sharing and compressed hours.
Under what circumstances can my employer refuse my request for flexible working?
Your employer may only turn down a request for flexible working for reasons directly affecting the business.
How should I go about making a request for flexible working?
Your employer is not obliged to agree to your request, but they must deal with your request in a 'reasonable manner', and can only reject it for one of the specified business reasons. It is sensible to consider how you can demonstrate that none of these reasons apply, or how you can mitigate any potential problems.
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