The UK Rules
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Flexible Working

Flexible Working Arrangements

Having variable and flexible working hours suits many employees and some employers, but it is not yet the rule of thumb for the workforce in the United Kingdom.


Choosing your own start and finish times, and whether you act out your daily schedules from an office workplace or from home, is trending at an increasing rate with a large section of the British workforce.

What is Flexible Working?

The term 'flexible working arrangements' can be defined by several varying explanations depending on the type of working schedule and adaptations you have agreed with your employer.

Essentially it refers to a specified working pattern which differs from employees' standard working patterns. The most commonly recognised flexible working arrangements include;

Requesting a Flexible Work Schedule

Prior to June 2014 the right to adjustable employment applied only to certain qualifying parents. If you want to make a flexible working request to your employer you should now use the procedure called a statutory application.

The law was amended to include every employee who qualifies by serving employment for at least 26 weeks with the same employer.

The legal statutory right to request flexible working is now open to all eligible employees and for any reason or ground and your employer must consider each request separately on a case-by-case basis.

Your employer needs to know what you expect so they can comply with the proper procedure. Therefore flexible working requests must be submitted in writing and contain the following important information;

Note: Northern Ireland has different rules for their flexibility on hours of work, homeworking, and workers' regulations.

Handling Flexible Working Requests

All bosses and HR managers need to brush up on the UK's flexible working laws because legislation stipulates that employers must 'consider seriously' any request for variable working arrangements by their employee (no matter whether they have a dependent or not).

Your employer must deal with your flexible working rights in a reasonable manner. They should assess the advantages and disadvantages of your application, weighing up their business interests against your reasons, and set up a meeting with you to discuss your request in private away from other workers.

The company must deal promptly with each request. Flexible working law allows three months (including any appeals) to deal with each case, unless you have both agreed different terms. Failing to appear for a scheduled meeting twice in succession by an employee can be considered as a withdrawn request.

An employee can take an employer to an employment tribunal if you feel your request was not handles in a reasonable manner. However, your employer can refuse your application to work flexibly if they have a solid business reason for doing so.

ACAS Code of Practice for Handling Flexible Working Requests [Free Download]

How Flexible Working Affects British Workplaces

According to a report by Vrumi, an increasing number of businesses are being encouraged to adopt a more efficient and less stringent approach to flexible working. Vrumi is based in London and they came up with an innovative plan to convert daytime room rental into affordable office workspace.

They estimated that around 10 million British workers spending at least half of their working hours at home. That staggering statistic translates into workplaces only being occupied around 40% of the time and 60% of offices are unused during working hours in the United Kingdom. The projected rise in flexible working means businesses need to take action which could also help improve a UK-wide 'space crisis'.

Flexible Working Laws
Last Updated 2018