Q: Can I request flexible working hours?

Flexible working is something an employee can request of their employer. It is ordinarily motivated by a need or desire to share, stagger or break up the normal working day or week in order to improve work/life balance.

All employees (not just parents or carers) have the legal right to request flexible working if they have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks.

If a request is made, the employer must consider and respond to the request, but it is noted that the law does not give an automatic right to flexible working.

A request can only be made once in any 12-month period.

When making a flexible working request (FWR) include all of the information below:

It should:

  • be in writing
  • make clear that this is a statutory request
  • state the date of the application
  • identify clearly how the change being requested changes working arrangements
  • state how the proposed changes might impact upon the school/college and how any such effect might be dealt with – identify the positive changes and suggest mitigations for how the changes can be accommodated.

If you have previously made a FWR, you cannot do this again within a 12 month period, so as necessary, you may wish to include a statement saying if, and when, any previous application was made.

You should obtain a copy of the Flexible Working Policy before making a request and check this thoroughly to understand the processes your employer operates.

Your employer has to consider seriously a request for flexible working.

In practice, this means that your employer must consider your request in a ‘reasonable manner’, meaning they must consider the benefits for you of your application versus any potential impact upon the employer.

Your employer must provide you with a decision (and information about any appeal process) within three months of your request being made.

If the employer accepts your FWR (or accepts it with modifications), they must write to you with 28 calendar days confirming the decision and start date. They should also write to you to notify you of the variation to your contract, that is, the changes being made to your working hours and your pay.

If your employer rejects your FWR, they must provide you with a reason why it has been declined - in writing. Your employer can only decline your FWR because of the following reasons:

  • the burden of additional costs
  • an inability to organise work amongst existing staff
  • a planned structural change to the business
  • a detrimental effect on the ability to meet customer demand
  • a detrimental impact on performance
  • a detrimental impact on quality
  • insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work
  • an inability to recruit additional staff

There should be a right of appeal.

NSEAD strongly believes that Flexible Working makes a positive contribution to the work/life balance of the employee and that this ultimately benefits the employer.

NSEAD urges members to contact NSEAD ahead of making a FWR application, so that assistance can be provided to help maximise the chances of the FWR being accepted.