FAQs: Flexible working hours

What are flexible working arrangements?

'Flexible working' arrangements include a range of more flexible working patterns which aim to accommodate an employee’s work more comfortably around their life. Common flexible working arrangements include:

  • Part-time work
  • Flexi-time
  • Job-sharing
  • Working from home
  • Annualised hours
  • Compressed hours
  • Staggered hours

How do flexible working hours work?

Flexi-time involves an employee choosing the hours they work, usually around core business hours. Annualised hours involves an employee working out their hours flexibly over the year. Compressed hours involves an employee working an agreed number of hours compressed over fewer working days. Staggered hours involves an employee starting at different times to other employees.

Do you have a right to ask for flexible working hours?

Certain workers have a statutory right to request flexible working. Any employee (not a contractor or agency worker) who has worked for the employer for 26 weeks' of continuous service and who has not made another application to work flexibly in the past 12 months, has this statutory right if they are caring for a child under age 16 (or under 18 if the child is disabled), a spouse, partner, civil partner or relative, or someone else living with them. Other workers can still make a request, but their right to do so is not protected by the law.

When must an employer grant flexible working hours?

The right to request flexible working does not equate to an obligation on the part of the employer to grant that request. The law does, however, require an employer to give serious consideration to an employee’s request for flexible working hours. An employer should only reject such a request if there are good business reasons for doing so.

Can you dispute your employer’s denial of flexible working hours?

If your employer rejects your claim for flexible working hours you may ask them to provide written reasons for the rejection. You may use your employer’s grievance procedures to dispute the rejection. You should only take legal action against your employer with the legal advice of an employment solicitor.

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