How to pitch for flexible working (and make it work for you and your team)
The legal aspect of flexible working requests
- Since 30 June 2014, all employees who have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks have had the right to request flexible working (previously just parents and carers).
- The right to request does not mean the right to have requests granted, it means that your employer must handle requests in a 'reasonable manner'. A reasonable manner includes assessing the advantages and disadvantages of granting your request.
- You can only make one flexible working request per year and a decision must be given by your employer within three months of you submitting (or longer if agreed with you).
Your application must include:
- The date
- A statement that this is a statutory request
- Details of how you want to work flexibly and when you would like to start
- An explanation of how you think flexible working might affect the business and how this could be dealt with
- A statement saying if and when you've made a previous application.
Before You Leave
Employees who work flexibly are, on average, more committed to the organisation than employees who don't work flexibly (see Kelliher & Anderson, 2010). Other research shows those who work flexibly feel grateful and also the need to reciprocate through working harder. A study by Catalyst (2013) found that women in organisations that offer flexible working are 30% more likely to aspire to high-level positions than those at organisations that do not offer flexible ways of working. By highlighting this type of research, you're sowing the seeds to win over a line manager who may be otherwise reluctant to support flexible working.
Claire Whyte, legal counsel, RBS
If you're likely to want to make a flexible working request, it could be helpful to sound out your line manager before you leave. You could ask a broad, open question such as 'what are your thoughts about how my role could be done flexibly?' Depending on the response, you can tailor your disclosure on your current thinking. Sharing some of your thoughts about how it could work signals your desire to be helpful; this clearly paves the way for positive and productive conversations later.
(In-house public sector)
Types of flexible working
- Part-time hours
- Compressed hours
- Annualised hours
- Working from home/remotely
- Term-time working only
- Different hours during term-time and school holidays
- Guaranteed time off in school holidays
- Staggered hours, eg coming in early and leaving early
- Specifically timed lunch break
- Working from home when a child is ill
- Different hours on different days or under certain circumstances
Kate Gillies, solicitor, Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP