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Flexible working

Giving up the 9 to 5 doesn't mean stopping working. Have you considered flexible working? It could suit you if have caring responsibilities, health issues or if you're thinking about retiring in the next few years.

What is flexible working?

Flexible working means you have more choice over when and where you work than a standard contract. So rather than working Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, you might choose a flexible work option, such as:

Flexitime Where you can vary when you start and finish your working day or work extra hours to build up flexi days of extra leave.
Compressed hours Where you work your full hours but over a shorter period of time, such as 8am to 6pm over four days rather than 9am to 5pm over five days.
Part-time or job sharing Where you share your job with another colleague and split the hours between you.
Location flexible Perhaps you can work from home all or part of the time, or be on call from wherever you want to be based, or work in different branches if you sometimes need to be near a relative, care home or hospital.

The options only count as flexible if chosen or agreed by the employee and not something, such as reduced hours, the employer simply imposes.

Why should I consider flexible working?

Flexible working isn’t just for parents and carers. It could suit a lot of people in very different circumstances, for example, those with:

  • caring responsibilities
  • health issues
  • a desire to take up new hobbies, volunteer or learn something new
  • travel plans
  • the desire to spend more time with a partner

If you are thinking about retiring in the next few years, starting to work flexibly could also be a good bridge into retirement. Stopping work suddenly can cause a shock to the system, and some people find that they get bored or even depressed after retirement. Flexible working could help you to adjust to that part of your life in a more gradual way.

Am I entitled to flexible working?

All employees, except agency workers, have the legal right to request flexible working – not just parents and carers. You have this right if you have worked for your employer continuously for 26 weeks. You only have the right to make one request for flexible working in any 12 month period, although different employers may consider more frequent requests.

How to request flexible working

You should put a formal request in writing, stating the following:

  • that you are making a statutory request for flexible working
  • what working conditions you would like to change
  • when you would like the change to be made
  • what effect you think this will have for the employer and how this could be dealt with
  • whether or not you have made any other applications for flexible working and when those were made

If you make a request for flexible working your employer must hold a meeting to discuss your request and weigh up the potential advantages and disadvantages. They can only refuse your application if they have a good business reason for doing so and they must offer you an appeal process. The whole process, from receiving your request to an appeal, shouldn’t take longer than three months.


Last updated: Jan 11 2018

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