In the workplace: get your hours in shape

Anyone is entitled to ask their employer for flexible working arrangements, but do your homework first

Over the last few decades the relationship between work and family life has changed, and people are more aware of the need for balance between their professional and home lives. Although some businesses are wary of allowing staff to work more flexible hours, most bosses understand that letting people work in a way that enables them to balance earning a living with looking after their children is not only good for families, but good for business too.

What is flexible working?

A request to work flexibly can cover hours, times, places and different patterns of work, from part time hours or job sharing, to home working, compressed or staggered hours, term-time only working, or time off in lieu.

Who is entitled to flexible working?

Anyone has the statutory right to ask for flexible working if they:

  • Are an employee (but not an agency worker or in the armed forces)
  • Have a child under six or a disabled child under 18
  • Are responsible for the child as a parent/guardian/foster parent
  • Are applying to care for the child
  • Are a carer of an adult to whom they are married or is their partner or civil partner; a near relative (including in-laws or step relatives); or falls into neither category but lives at the same address as them
  • Have worked for their employer for 26 weeks continuously.

How to ask for flexible working

Statutory applications for flexible working must be made in writing and a person can only make one application each year. The current flexible working legislation ensures that if you ask for flexible working, your employer must take your request seriously and can only reject it if they can clearly show that it would impair their business.

If your request is turned down, or you think it might be, be prepared to put together any evidence of how you plan to overcome the problems that your boss foresees. You can find more information about flexible working on the ACAS website.

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