The right to request flexible working

There are many forms of flexible working. It can describe a place of work, for example homeworking, or a type of contract, such as a temporary contract. Other common variations include: part time working, flexitime, job sharing and shift work.

Key points


Making a request

Although employees with less than 26 weeks service do not have a statutory right to request flexible working, some employers may allow all staff to make a request.

To make a request for flexible working employees must:

Handling requests to work flexibly 

Once a request has been received the employee should arrange a meeting to discuss the request, this should be done as soon as possible, this is not a statutory requirement but is good practice.

This meeting can provide an opportunity to see what changes the employee is asking for and reasons for the change, although the employee may not wish to say why it also allows any compromise to be explored. Although not a statutory requirement, it would be good practice to allow the employee to be accompanied at a meeting by a work colleague or trade union representative.

The law requires the process to be completed within three months of the request being received, this includes any appeals.

Any request that is accepted will make a permanent change to the employment contract, so if the employee wants a temporary change then an agreement may be reached together with any comprise if the original request can not be accommodated.

However, if the employer is willing to grant a request then meeting may not be necessary, but it still may be useful to discuss a request to ensure that the proposal made by the employee is the best solution for both employer and employee.

Employers should considered requests in a reasonable manner and can only refuse them if there is a business reasons for doing so, this reason must be from the following list:

Resolving a dispute

Wherever possible it is better to reach agreement on flexible working within the workplace. However, if the application is refused at the appeal stage you can:

Where agreement cannot be reached you may wish to consider:

Those who wish to bring a claim to the tribunal or appeal tribunal will have to pay a fee. An initial fee will be paid to issue a claim and a further fee will be payable if the claim proceeds to hearing. There are two levels of fee which will depend on the type of claim. Further information is available from Ministry of Justice - Employment Tribunal guidance.

Working from home

The Acas homeworking guidance offers employers and employees advice on how to:

See our homeworking guidance or download the Acas pdf  Homeworking - a guide for employers and employees [263kb].

Acas Code of Practice and guide

Acas has produced a Code of Practice together with a non statutory guide on handling requests in a reasonable manner to work flexibly. The Code offers a process to follow when making and considering flexible working requests and includes both legal and good practice requirements.

Will flexible forms of working provide the answer to work-life balance?

Acas Head of Equality, Steve Williams, discusses this in the Workplace trends of 2015 report by Acas, the CIPD and

Right to request flexible working video

Head of Equality at Acas, Steve Williams, explains how employers should consider the right to request flexible working. SME company directors Sam Willoughby, Nicky Chisholm and Jon Mackie talk about the benefits of flexible working and how they manage flexible working within their respective businesses.

Acas training for employers on flexible working

Acas has launched a new training course to help employers understand upcoming changes to flexible working legislation, the Acas Code of Practice and the accompanying good practice guidance.

View all Acas training event dates and locations for Flexible working.

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