Flexible working can be a minefield if you don’t know your rights. Sadly the term ‘flexible working’ seems to have acquired negative connotations being seen as a ‘women’s thing’. More and more employers are starting to use the term ‘agile working’ instead for that very reason.
However let’s look at flexible working in terms of your legal rights.
Your legal rights
In June 2014, the UK law on flexible working changed so that it is no longer a right restricted to carers or those looking after children. All employees now have the right to request flexible working – whether you want flexible work schedule because you are training for an Ironman or you simply want a different work-life balance.
To make a formal request, you need to have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks or more. Download my free Flexible working worksheet for more information and additional resources.
However this doesn’t mean that you must wait 26 weeks before you can request flexible working. You can request flexible working before you start employment or at any time. The law simply means that you have the right to request flexible working after 26 weeks and your employer must handle your request in a ‘reasonable manner’.
The government guidelines suggest that a ‘reasonable manner’ includes:
- assessing the advantages and disadvantages of the application
- holding a meeting to discuss the request with the employee
- offering an appeal process
In other words, your employer cannot dismiss your request without demonstrating that it has been given due attention and thought. They can’t just refuse your formal request without thinking it through.
What is flexible working
There are many forms of flexible working however, in essence, it’s a way of working to suit your employee needs. It’s not just about part-time hours. It could be working from home on a regular basis or a job share. Flexible working also includes:
- Job share
- Work from home for some or all of your hours
- Work at an alternative location for some or all of your hours/days – perhaps your employer has a head office and an office nearer to home
- Part-time or reduced hours
- Compressed hours i.e. the same number of full-time hours over fewer days e.g. instead of 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, you could suggest 8am to 5.30pm, Monday to Thursday
- Flexitime – where you work agreed core hours e.g. always in the office between 10am and 3pm, and choose start/end time
- Annualised hours – work a certain number of hours per year with flexibility as to when those hours are worked
- Staggered hours – different start, finish and break times
- Phased retirement (remember flexible working is open to all)
- Shift work – organising within your team who covers the early/late shift to suit the needs of the team
How to request flexible working
Depending on the relationship that you have with your employer, your manager or your team, you might want to sound out your request before putting it in writing.
- You can only make one request in 12 months.
- Requests need to be made in writing stating what change you are seeking, when you want to start and how you think this will affect the business.
- State that it’s a statutory request.
- State if and when you have made a previous request.
Before you put your request in writing, think about it from your employer’s point of view. That way you can counter as many objections before they are made. For example
- What will the commercial and operational impact be?
- What will the effect be on the rest of the team?
- How will it affect your clients?
- What about busy periods/seasons?
Finally give consideration as to how you can mitigate or lessen the impact? It makes for a much stronger business case when you bring potential solutions to your employer.
Check out this brilliant interview in my Confident Conversations podcast with work balance expert, Anna Mellor, for top tips on how to present your case.
And in this episode, Kristal McNamara talks about flexible working from the employer’s perspective.
Once you have submitted your formal request, your employer will need time to consider it. The law tells us that your employer needs to make a decision within 3 months – they can take longer if this is agreed with you. If the request is agreed to, the terms and conditions in your contract will need to be changed.
Even if your request is rejected, your employer needs to give you the business reasons for turning down your request.
Flexible working is good for everybody. It’s good for business because it increases productivity and improves employee engagement.
- Directory of agencies and jobsites that specialise in flexible working
- Interview with Kristal McNamara on flexible working from the employer’s perspective
- Flexible working – your rights worksheet – download free <<here>>
- Top tips on how to request a flexible work schedule – listen <<here>>
- What the government says about flexible working <<here>>
- A practical guide to remote working for employers <<here>>
p.s. If you want more help or you’d just like to talk it through with somebody objective, let’s talk. Sometimes a simple conversation is all you need. Book your complimentary flexible working call <<HERE>>. And if you want to take it further and work with me so that somebody guides you through the process, we can talk about that too.
#flexibleworking #workthatworks #flexiwork