Requesting flexible work

An employee who has worked for more than 26 weeks is entited to ask an employer to vary their working hours. Since 30 June 2014 this 'right to request' applies to all employees with the necessary service.


The right will still be of most use to employees with caring responsibilities or another life changes that means their current working arrangements no longer fit with their other commitments.


It will be in an employees interest to make a case for the change in their working hours or pattern.


An employee is only entitled to make one formal request under the process per year. However there is nothing to stop an employee asking more often for flexible working outside the formal procedure.


The right is supported by a statutory Code of Practice produced by ACAS (copy below)

Form of the request

The request for flexible working must be made in writing and must:

  • state that it is an application for flexible working
  • explain the change that is requested
  • specify the date of the proposed change
  • explain what effect the proposed change will have on the employer and how that might be dealt with
  • be dated
  • state whether a previous application for flexible working has been made to the employer and if so, when

Considering the request

An employer must consider the flexible working requests that they recieve in a reasonable manner and within a reasonable time.


A request must be replied to within 3 months.


The Code of Practice recommends that the employer should meet the employee to discuss the request as soon as possible. It is not necessary to hold a meeting if the employer intends to grant the request.


The employer must consider the request in a reasonable way and give consideration to the changes requested by the employee.

Employers reason for refusal

If the employer refuses the request they must do so for one of the following reasons:

  • the extra costs that it would cause
  • it would stop the business meeting customer demand
  • it is not possible to reorganise the work
  • other employees could not be recruited
  • it would reduce quality or performance
  • there is insufficient work during the proposed new hours
  • changes to the workforce are planned
ACAS Code of Practice on flexible working requests
Adobe Acrobat Document 170.8 KB

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