How to manage flexible working requests

What is flexible working?

Flexible working refers to an adaptation or modification to an employee’s work schedule to suit their needs. For example: job sharing; a change in hours; staggered start and finish times; phased retirement; or a change in working location, such as working from home.

Although the definition of flexible working is geared towards benefitting an employee, a business can also see many benefits when adopting more flexible practices.

Why might an employee submit a flexible working request?

There are many reasons why an employee might submit a flexible working request as it will come down to their specific needs.

For example, flexible work requests often come from employees caring for dependants. They need to balance caring or childcare responsibilities with work.

Employees are legally permitted unpaid time off to deal with an emergency involving a dependant. But a request for flexible working is different and may facilitate their needs better in the long term.

Working parents and carers are not the only ones who may need flexible working however, and every request will need to be treated fairly to avoid claims of discrimination.

Do I have to permit requests for flexible working?

You are not obliged to permit all requests for flexible working, but you are obliged to consider them. If you choose to decline a request due to business incompatibility, you will need to justify this.

If an employee feels their request has been declined unfairly, they may raise a claim against you.

What are the benefits of welcoming flexible working practices?

Businesses that can permit flexible working may see the following benefits:

  • Staff retention
  • Happier and healthier employees
  • Increased productivity
  • Better collaboration
  • A wider talent pool for recruitment

Download the full guide to know what to do when you receive a flexible working request

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