Flexible working hours - how to make an application for flexible working.

flexible working
What is flexible working?
Flexible working is the way in which a working day, week, month or year is organised or reorganised, so that a person's work life fits in around other parts of their life and commitments.

It is generally working different hours and/or days to the traditional 9 - 5, Monday - Friday. However, it is not only the working hours that may be changed, but also the place from which the work is carried out may differ from the norm, as new technologies have made this possible. Nowadays, many employees are able to carry out part of their work from home, on the road or even in the middle of a busy shopping centre if they really wanted to!

Why choose flexible working?

Flexible working is equally beneficial in many ways to both employers and employees. Employers are now recognising that many employees, men and women, are parents, and they understand the importance of spending time with their children, especially when they are young.

They also understand that people need to have a healthy balance in their lives and spend equal time at work as well as pursuing leisure activities. They know that if their employees are happy and healthy, their business will flourish.

In the same respect, if an employee is able to work at times that suit them, whether this is around school hours, at weekends, early mornings or evenings, they will be less stressed and much happier, subsequently leading to a happier, more motivated and more productive workforce.

Working with flexible hours also means that a business can stay open for longer, which for trading purposes, particularly if dealing with companies in other parts of the world, is extremely important.

Types of flexible working

There are many ways in which the traditional working pattern can be changed to suit the needs of those that request flexible working.
  • Flexi-time - employees have to work during set hours, generally during peak hours or busy periods, but can choose the rest of their hours to any time that suits them.
  • Part-time working - reducing a full-time job to part-time to fit in with school hours for example.
  • Job sharing - one full-time position is given to two people who arrange their working hours between them.
  • Working from home - taking part of the work home to be carried out when suits.
  • Staggered hours - in order to have longer opening hours employees start and finish at different times of the day.
  • Compressed hours - working the same number of hours over a shorter period of time.
  • Shift swapping - swapping shifts with other employees to suit all.
  • Annualised hours - working out how many hours are worked over the whole year and splitting into shifts.

Who can ask for flexible working hours?

Anyone can ask their employer for flexible working hours but not all workers have the statutory right to do so. Employees that meet certain criteria have the legal right to request flexible working hours and each employer must seriously consider each request. Note however, that this right is not to be given flexible working hours but only to request them.

Those that have the statutory right to request flexible working hours must:
  • Be an employee and not a contract or agency worker
  • Have worked for the employer continuously for a minimum of 26 weeks on the date of making the request
  • Not have made another statutory request in the previous 12 months
And one of the following:
  • Have a child under the age of 17 years old (was 6 years old previously)
  • Have a disabled child under the age of 18 that receives disability living allowance
  • Acts as a carer for a relative (spouse, parent, partner etc.)

Types of requests

If you are thinking of making a request for flexible working time, you may want to change the number hours that you work, the times that you work or the location.

Your employer must take your request seriously but doesn't necessarily have to grant it. If he declines your application, there must be a valid business reason to back up his unfavourable decision.

How to apply for flexible working hours

There is a set procedure that must be carried out when making an application to your employer for flexible working hours. The request can be made via email, letter, fax or by filling in a FW (A) form, which can be downloaded from the Gov.uk website. Ensure that you make your request as early as possible as it could take up to several months to be assessed and for a decision to be made.

No matter which material you choose, your application must include the following:
  • The date
  • The statement that you are making a statutory request for flexible working hours
  • Your responsibilities as a parent or carer
  • The date on which you wish to start your change of working hours
  • How you wish to work in the future
  • How you think that this change will positively affect your work and your employer's business
  • Whether you have made a previous statutory request and if so, when
Once you have handed your application to your employer, he will have to arrange a meeting within 28 days to discuss the matter and subsequently make his decision within 14 days after that. If your application is refused, you have the right to appeal.

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