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Requesting flexible working hours

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Parents can find it hard to raise a family and commit to a career. The ability to request flexible working can help someone remain in their role, as well as meeting their family commitments. If you’re thinking of applying for flexible work, how do you start the process and what areas should you consider?

What rights do you have?

Employees who are eligible to apply for flexible working have the right to:

– Ask for flexible work

– Have their application considered properly and only rejected if there’s a clear business reason

– Be allowed to have a colleague present at the meeting

– Have a written explanation if their application’s refused

– Have the right to appeal the decision

– Go through the tribunal’s complaints procedure if necessary

Flexible working can cover a range of different patterns, so it’s important that you understand exactly what you want to do before applying. This can include changing your overall hours, the times that you start or finish work or asking to work from home on either a full or part time basis.

women at work flexible working

Am I eligible to request flexible working hours?

There are strict guidelines as to who’s eligible for the statutory right to apply for flexible working. If you don’t meet these criteria, some employers will still offer flexible working arrangements. To meet the eligibility criteria you must:

– Be employed by the company

– Have responsibility for a child under 6 or a disabled child under 18

– Be the parent or foster, adoptive or guardian parent of the child or be married to or the partner of the parent or foster, adoptive or guardian parent

– Require flexible working to help with the care of the child

– Have worked for the company for at least 26 weeks continuously

– Not be an agency worker or part of the armed forces

– Have not made another application within the last 12 months

Before applying for flexible working

Before you start the application process, you need to ensure that you’ve considered all the angles and any issues that might arise for the business. Firstly you should:

– Have a clear and well thought out application

– Ensure you’re eligible and provide all the required information

– Give enough notice to your employer that you want to start flexible working

– Be prepared to discuss and, if necessary, compromise with your employer

Not all employers are as up to date on the rights to request flexible working. It would be useful to make sure you know exactly what you’re entitled to and come up with a sound business justification for them accepting your request. Smaller companies in particular might be concerned about the effect on their customers and the smooth running of the business.

Working mother with girl

Making your application

When you’re applying for flexible working, it’s important that you consider the effect on the employer and how these issues might be mitigated. A well thought out application that covers all the angles is much more likely to be seriously considered, rather than one that solely covers the impact on the employee. Within your written application you must indicate what your proposed working pattern would be and the date you’d like this to start. You need to bear in mind that the process can take up to 14 weeks, or longer if there are any issues. It’s best to make your application well in advance of your need, allowing your employer the time to consider the proposal thoroughly.

Once you’ve submitted your application, your employer must acknowledge it and arrange a meeting within 28 days. You’re entitled to have a colleague present to support you. At the meeting both parties have the opportunity to discuss the issues, so be prepared to justify your case. It would be beneficial if you’ve got a degree of flexibility, so that you can come to a compromise decision if necessary. Following the meeting, the employer has 14 days to notify you of the decision. If your request has been declined, then under the regulations you have the right to appeal.

Hopefully, if you’ve followed the process carefully and submitted a thorough application, your request will be accepted. You can then arrange a start date with your employer and enjoy a better work life balance that meets the demands of a young family.








About Catherine Stern

About Catherine Stern

Catherine Stern is a freelance writer with a background in marketing and PR. She currently writes web content on a range of subjects, from finance and business to travel and home improvements. As a working single mum of two young boys she understands the pressures that today’s working parents face and the topics they want to read about.

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