Flexible Working Hours? Your Right to Ask

Flexible working means different things to different people. It might mean having different start or finish times to other members of staff, home-working, working fewer hours or fewer days, working more hours in term-time and less in the holidays, job-sharing and so on.

If you are an employee, there are specific rules that came into force in 2014. Many employers recognise that there are benefits to properly managed flexible working arrangements and, for parents in particular, this can make it easier to balance the (sometimes conflicting) demands of work and family.

We have compiled this brief overview of what your rights are. For more detailed information, please look at this government website. The main points are:

  • You have a statutory right to request flexible working arrangements
  • You must have been employed for at least 6 months (although, even if this isn’t the case, your employer may still be willing to grant your request)
  • You need to make your request in writing
  • You only have the statutory right to make one request in a 12-month period
  • Requests and appeals must be decided upon within 3 months
  • Your employer must deal with your request ‘in a reasonable manner’ by assessing the application, having a meeting with you about it and giving you the chance to appeal if the answer is ‘no’
  • Your employer can only say no to your request if there is a specific business reason for doing so

Getting the right balance between the different aspects of our lives inevitably becomes more challenging when we have children to look after (or other dependents or elderly relatives) … working flexible hours can make the difference between struggling and succeeding, and it’s good to know we have the right to at least try and make it happen.