What is flexible working?
Flexible working is a kind of working pattern which differs from your existing work pattern. These differences can be on the basis of working arrangements and hence, may include the following:
- Changing from full time work to part time
- Changes in part time working hours, for instance, working on weekends to work on week days instead
- Changes in number of working hours
- Compressed hours; which means completing the required number of hours but in fewer days
- Flexible timings which allows a person to fit working hours around the agreed core timings
- Working from home
- Job sharing
- Self-rostering – a concept often found in hospital and care services – employees submit the timings they are comfortable working. The shift patterns are made matching your work preference as much as possible.
- Working in shifts
- Staggered hours which let the employee begin and end their day at different times. This is often found in retail sector.
- Annualised hours
Asking for flexible working
There are two ways in which an employee can ask for flexible working:
This is a request made in accordance with the laws on flexible working. There is a predefined process by which the employee and their employer negotiate their flexible working request.
In this request:
- The employee must make the request in writing
- The employee cannot make more than one request in a year
- The request the employee makes must be taken into serious consideration
- The entire process of request must be completed within three months.
It is important to note that only some employees are entitled to place a statutory request.
For those who are not entitled to make a statutory request can proceed with a non-statutory one. Since this one does not fall under any law, there is no predefined procedure to place or follow the request. It is however suggested that the employee should make their request in writing in order to be clear of what they are requesting. It is quite possible that the employer has their own scheme and rules regarding the procedure.
Even if as an employee, you are entitled to a statutory request, you may wish to make a non statutory one instead if there are only minor changes you are looking for or if these changes are temporary.
Who is entitled to make a statutory request?
In order to have this right, you must:
- Be an employee of the organisation
- Have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks before you file the application
Who cannot make a statutory request for flexible working?
Even if you meet the said conditions you may not have a right to make a statutory request if:
- You are a member of the armed forces
- You are an agency worker unless you are returning from a parental leave, in which case you can ask for flexible hours.
- You have already asked for flexible hours in the past one year
- You are an employee shareholder.
Is the change permanent?
If your request for flexible working hours is accepted, it then remains a permanent change in your contract. It is however allowed to be agreed on a trial period to establish if it is suitable for both you and your employer.
If you don’t want the change to be permanent in your contract, there are ways you can negotiate a temporary change with your boss.
How a flexible working request will affect terms and conditions?
If you are working on different hours, your pay and other benefits must not get reduced. If the employer does not agree to the same terms as before, you can make a claim at an employment tribunal.
If you have changed your hours from full time to part time and hence offered worse terms, you are entitled to make a claim at an employment tribunal in accordance with the Part Time Workers Regulations. You may even be able to file a claim for discrimination.
Flexible working should not affect your employment rights which include claiming unfair dismissal, statutory redundancy pay, an itemised statement of pay, minimum notice period and maternity rights. Any reduction in the hours you work should not impact your joining rights or occupational pension scheme. This can lead to an unlawful sex discrimination.
Our no win no fee Employment Law Solicitors can assist with all types of claims. Naturally, we pride ourselves on providing the best possible service to the highest standards, we offer free employment law advice on all problems. Call us on 0800 756 6605 or 020 3923 4777
Tom Street qualified as a solicitor in 2003 and has over 20 years experience in employment and litigation law. He studied law at the University of Manchester before undertaking the legal practice course at the College of Law in Guildford, going on to complete his legal training at a firm in Chancery Lane, London. Once fully qualified, he moved to a niche litigation practice in the City of London.
In 2010, Tom set up his own legal practice, Tom Street & Co Solicitors and as part of this, in accordance with his strongly held objective to provide everyone with an easy pathway to justice he established the online portals Do I Have A Case? and Tribunal Claim. These websites are trading names of Tom Street & Co Solicitors.