Flexible Working Rights in the UK

Types of Flexible Working

Flexible working can take on many forms. It may relate to a type of contract, such as a fixed term contract. Alternatively, it may relate to the location or hours of work. Below is a list of some of the most common ways that firm can implement this type of working.

  • Job sharing – two employees share the same job and split the hours.
  • Work from home – some or all of the work is done from the employee’s home.
  • Part-time – working less than full-time hours.
  • Compressed time – working full-time hours but over fewer days
  • Flexitime – core hours of work are agreed upon but the employee chooses when to start and end the work day.
  • Annualised hours – employees have to work a certain amount of hours over the year. Some hours can be used in periods when extra work is needed i.e. seasonal periods
  • Staggered hours – employees have different start, end and break times from other workers.
  • Phased retirement – older workers can choose to reduce their hours and when to retire.

Applying for flexible working

As of the 30th June 2014, every employee has the statutory right to request flexible working after 26 weeks of continued employment service. The basic steps for requesting new practices, such as flexible working hours, are as follows:

  1. Writing to the employer ( via email or letter)
  2. The employer then has to consider the request and make a decision within 3 months (longer if agreed with the employee)
  3. If the employer agrees to the request then the terms of the employee’s contract must be changed.
  4. If the employer disagrees, they must write to the employee giving valid business reasons for the refusal.

Employees may make only one application per year.

After the application

If the employee agrees with the application, then the changes should be put into a written statement and the employee’s contract modified. Both parties should agree upon a start date for the commencement of new working practices.

If the employer disagrees with the application, there must be a valid business reason to do so. This could be:

  • Increased costs which could cause damage to the business
  • Impossibility to recruit people to do the work
  • Workload cannot be reorganised amongst other employees
  • A planned change in the workforce.
  • The new arrangement would affect quality and performance of business
  • Lack of work during new flexible working hours.
  • New practices cause an inability to meet customer demand.

Should an employee wish to appeal the employer’s decision, they should follow company procedure for resolving disputes. Employees may wish to appeal if the employer has not considered the request in a ‘reasonable manner’ or if the employee has been treated poorly in the wake of the request.

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