Flexible working

Published: 06 May 2015

working mother

If you're a working parent, one option you might want to consider is flexible working hours.

What are your rights?

You have a right to request flexible working if you have a child/children aged under 18: your application has to be written, signed and dated.

You also have the right to have your request taken seriously by your employer. But, your employer isn't obliged to allow your request. What they must do is follow proper procedure, including meeting you and giving you an opportunity to appeal if your request is refused. Reasons for refusal have to be given in writing and must be 'business' reasons, such as that it would cost them a lot more, or that your request would have a detrimental effect on customer service.

Before you request flexible working it's worth working out how you'd demonstrate that your work/the business won't be affected. Issues might include:

  • how you'd communicate from home
  • how you'd input into meetings on your home days how you'd keep your boss/rest of the team up to date with your workload
  • whether you could be flexible about what days you're in the office

You need to think about what you might suggest to your employer about how to cover the remainder of your tasks. Simply suggesting that your colleagues have the spare capacity to cover some of your work might erode goodwill.

A trial period provides a bit of a 'safe' environment to test your proposal. Your employer can withdraw the arrangement if it's not working, and it gives you the opportunity to make sure it works brilliantly so they can't possibly turn it down.

Remember that it's not appropriate for your employer to grill you about your childcare arrangements during the course of discussions about flexible working.

Common types of flexible working

Flexi-time (choosing when to work, although there's usually a 'core' period when you have to work)

Annualised hours (hours worked out over a year)

Compressed hours (agreed hours over fewer days)

Staggered hours (different start, break and finish times for different employees)

Job-share (sharing a job designed for one person with someone else)

Home work (self-explanatory)

Part-time work (ditto)

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