How To Request Flexible Working

Posted: Monday October 22 2018

By: Guest Blogger

Preparing to return from maternity leave can be a daunting time, particularly if you want to change your working pattern so that it offers you a better work life balance. If you can understand your rights you will be able to put the best case forward and open a discussion with your employer before your return date.

Your rights

If you have been with your employer for at least 26 weeks you have the right to request flexible working. This means you can ask your employer to change your working pattern, usually permanently though there is no reason you can’t ask for a temporary change.
For a formal request, you should put it in writing, date it, state that it is an application in accordance with the statutory procedure and set out the following:

• What change you are asking for and when you would like it to take effect
• How the change will affect the employer and how any effect can be dealt with
• Whether you have made a previous request to work flexibly and when such request was made.


Top tips to get the outcome you want

1. Approach your employer early with your plans and try and have an informal chat first to see how the land lies – this might help you with point 2…

2. Make sure you have fully considered how your plan might affect the team in which you work as well as any other considerations such as clients, customers, or subordinates. Can you make it an easy “sell” to your employer?

3. Consider whether there are any examples of your proposed working pattern already in the business that you can use as supporting evidence when making your request? If you know colleagues who are also working similar patterns, you could approach them for advice on what does and doesn’t work so well for them so you can tackle any questions in the meeting.

4. Do you have some back up plans that you could offer as an alternative to your employer when you have the meeting? Are there other alternatives which may work in the short term so that you could test them out whilst considering whether or not to move jobs or make another request in 12 months if you aren’t granted your original request.

5. Have you considered how you will still reach your career goals with the new working pattern. If you can show to your employer that you still have a long term plan with the business and the change in working pattern hasn’t affected this.

If your request is refused

Your employer can only turn down your request on one (or more) of 8 specific grounds:

• The burden of additional costs.
• Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand.
• Inability to reorganise work among existing staff.
• Inability to recruit additional staff.
• Detrimental impact on quality.
• Detrimental impact on performance.
• Insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work.
• Planned structural changes.

You will have the right to appeal the decision and, if you believe your employer does not have grounds to reject your request, you may be able to pursue the matter in an employment tribunal. The focus these days is very much on how the workforce can be more flexible and agile and as such hopefully most employers would be willing to properly consider your request.