If you’re an employee, you may be keen to adopt a more flexible working pattern. While there is a common misconception that only carers or parents have the right to ask for changes of this kind, that isn’t actually true.

Any employee has the right to request a flexible working arrangement, although there is no guarantee the request will be granted. Here, we take a look at the kinds of flexible changes you may request.

Statutory Applications

If you are making a request for flexible working patterns, you can make a “statutory application”. Any employee is allowed to do this as long as they have been working for that employer for a minimum of 26 weeks and they meet the other key criteria.

Even if you’ve been employed by your employer for over 26 weeks, you cannot make a statutory application if you work through an agency (unless you’re returning from a period of parental leave), if you’ve already asked for a flexible working arrangement in the past 12 months, or if you are an employee shareholder (except when returning from a period of parental leave within the past 14 days).

If you don’t meet the criteria to make a statutory request, it’s possible to make non-statutory requests to your employer. In such cases, there isn’t a set procedure, but making the request in writing is best.

Upon making the request, the employer must deal with it reasonably by assessing the application’s disadvantages and advantages carefully, and perhaps by arranging a meeting where the request can be discussed with the worker. An appeals process should also be offered if necessary.

If your employer doesn’t handle your request reasonably, you have a right to take the matter to a tribunal, although employers are allowed to refuse your application as long as there is an appropriate business reason.

What Is Meant By Flexible Working?

The term “flexible working” refers to any kind of work pattern that differs from the one you currently have.

A flexible working arrangement may include:

  • A change to part-time from full-time work.
  • A change in the hours you work e.g., from the weekend to week days.
  • A change in your working hours so they fit with care arrangements or school hours.
  • A change to compressed hours – working the same number of hours over fewer days.
  • Remote or home working for all or some of the time.
  • Flexitime – fitting your work hours around specified core times.
  • A job share arrangement.
  • Shift working.
  • Self-rostering – drawing up a shift pattern that matches your chosen times as nearly as possible.
  • Staggered hours – allowing you to begin and end your working day at different times.
  • Annualised hours organising your working hours around the set amount of hours you need to work in a year.
  • Time off in lieu.
  • Term-time only working.

It’s important to be aware that if your employer does agree to a request for flexible working, the change will be permanent. It may also affect the terms and conditions of your employment, although you should receive identical benefits and holiday entitlements on a pro rata basis.

If the terms and conditions your employer offers you are worse, you may be eligible to take the matter to tribunal, and you may have a claim for discrimination.

Flexible working has no effect on any statutory employment rights and your rights to be in the pension scheme shouldn’t be affected either, although if your salary decreases after a switch to a flexible working pattern, it could impact on what you’d receive should you be made redundant.