Flexible Working

Flexible ways of working are on the rise, giving employees flexibility on where, when and the hours they work. This section offers advice to employees on how to find new jobs with flexible hours, how to request flexible working hours from current employers, tips on avoiding pitfalls and all the news and updates on legislation.

In this guide:

Once you have a family, the idea of working flexibly becomes very appealing. The ultimate goal is to continue your career while getting as much time with the children as possible. For some it means working from home, for others, it’s more flexibility around working hours.

To find out more about how you can achieve a good work-life balance by working more flexibly, and the different practices out there, read on.

What is flexible working?

The UK government website says: “Flexible working is a way of working that suits an employee’s needs, for example having flexible start and finish times, or working from home. All employees have the legal right to request flexible working – not just parents and carers.”

The ultimate goal is to find a way to do your job successfully in a way that works for you and your family, as well as your employer.

Types of flexible working

There are lots of ways that you can work more flexibly:

  • Moving to part time work.

This is where you formally request a move to part time working, or find a new part time flexible job to suit you.

  • Changing your part time hours.

Making changes to your existing part time job.

  • Job sharing.

Job shares are where two people split the hours in a working week to perform a single role between them.

  • Working from home, remote working or agile working.

Doing some or all of your work from home or other locations outside of your ‘normal’ place of work.

  • Compressed hours.

Here, you still work full-time hours by having a longer working day, but work fewer days in a week.

  • Flexitime.

Some employers will allow you to decide your own working hours. Often you will need to be present for ‘core hours’ such as 10am to 4pm.

  • Annualised hours.

With this arrangement, you work a certain number of hours over the year, with flexibility about when you work. This is sometimes found in jobs with clear ‘seasons’ such as academic roles or in agriculture and tourism.

  • Staggered hours.

Where you have different start and end times from your colleagues.

  • Phased retirement.

Now that default retirement age has been phased out, people can choose when they want to retire, and can request reduced hours and part time work as they approach retirement.

See also:

Your rights

Everyone has the right to request flexible working. In the UK you can either make a Statutory Request or a Non-Statutory one – but do note that the rules are different in Northern Ireland.

You can make a Statutory Request if you have worked for your company for 26 weeks or more, as long as you’re not:

  • A member of the armed forces
  • An agency worker (although you can request flexible working if you’re returning from parental leave)
  • Asking for flexible working again, having already asked in the past 12 months
  • An employee shareholder, unless you’ve returned from parental leave in the past 14 days.

If you’re in any of the above groups you can still make a Non-Statutory Request.

How to request flexible working

To request flexible working, you need to write a letter to your employer. Some organisations might have a standard form that you need to complete.

Your flexible working request letter must include:

  • The date
  • Whether your request is Statutory or Non-Statutory
  • Details of how you want to work flexibly and when you want to start
  • An explanation of how you think this will affect the business and how any issues can be covered. For example, if you won’t be at work on Friday, how could work you would normally do be done?
  • Whether (and when) you have made a previous application.

Your employer is allowed up to three months to make a decision. By law, they have to give ‘reasonable’ consideration to the request. They must respond in writing.

They are able to reject your application if there are your good reasons, such as increased costs to the business, a significant effect on business performance or meeting customer demand, or that the work can’t be shared by other members of the team.

See also:

Finding new flexible jobs


Perhaps you’re not currently at work, or are looking to find a new, more flexible role. The good news is that employers are increasingly recognising the benefits of having a more flexible workforce – not least because it reduces their office costs. The signs are, too, that flexible workers are often more productive and happier in their work.

That means there are now more jobs to choose from, especially jobs with flexible hours. A quick glimpse at the jobs page on workingmums shows a huge range of flexible part time and full time roles, from homeworking to school-hours contracts and term-time-only work. Most jobs boards will let you filter roles according to the type of flexibility you’re looking for.

See also:


Flexible working through self-employment

If you’re keen to get complete control of how and when you work, have you considered becoming your own boss? Thousands of parents turn to self-employment every year. Whether you have an idea for a start-up business, you’re retraining as a plumber or electrician, or setting up as a freelancer, you could find that self-employment is the key to child-friendly working hours.

It’s easy to register as self-employed with HMRC, but do consider the implications of leaving employment before taking the plunge. It can be harder to get a mortgage if you’re self-employed and you’ll be fully responsible for paying into your own pension. You might also lose valuable benefits like private healthcare. The other risk with self employment is that your income is likely to be unsteady, with peaks and troughs – and possibly minimal profits in the early months.

If you’re certain that self employment is the right path, one area to consider is the world of franchising. workingmums.co.uk features lots of franchise opportunities of various sizes. These businesses are tried and tested, and on purchasing a licence you’re buying support and expertise from the franchisee. For more, take a look at our franchise pages.

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