Flexible Working Forms

Notes of guidance

Making an Application

The Flexible Working Policy provides information for employees wishing to apply to work flexibly. Please note that if you wish to apply to work flexibly for a limited period, you should not use this form but should instead send a letter of application to your head of department, or comparable authority.

You should ensure that you submit your application to the appropriate person well in advance of the date you wish the request to take effect. If you are going on maternity leave, you should think carefully about when to make your request (please also note that you could instead apply to return on a graduated basis for the first 12 months before taking up your full duties). You are encouraged to mention to your department before you take leave that you are interested in applying to work flexibly on your return - please note that you may need to attend meetings with your department so that your request can be properly considered. If you want the changes to start on your return from maternity leave, you should make your application in good time.

If you request a flexible working pattern that will result in you working fewer hours, your pay, pension contributions and benefits will also be reduced on a pro rata basis. Therefore, you may wish to take advice from the pensions office (Ext. 32214) about the effect of changes on your pension.

Eligibility to apply under the Flexible Working Regulations

Under the Flexible Working Regulations employees eligible to apply are all those who:

  • are an employee
  • have worked with their employer continuously for 26 weeks at the date the application is made
  • have not have made another application to work flexibly under the right during the past 12 months

Parents must:

  • have a child under 17, or under 18 in the case of a disabled child
  • make the application no later than two weeks before the child's sixteenth birthday or eighteenth birthday in the case of a disabled child
  • have or expect to have responsibility for the child's upbringing and are making the application to enable them to care for the child
  • be either: the mother, father, adopter, guardian, special guardian or foster parent; or married to or the partner of the child's mother, father, adopter, guardian, special guardian or foster parent

Carers of adults who are in need of care must be or expect to be caring for a spouse, partner, civil partner or relative; or if not the spouse, partner, civil partner or relative, live at the same address as the adult in need of care.

A relative under the legislation is a mother, father, adopter, guardian, special guardian, parent-in-law, son, son-in-law, daughter, daughter-in-law, brother, brother-in-law, sister, sister-in-law, uncle, aunt or grandparent. Step parents and half blood relatives are also included, as are adoptive relationships and relationships which would have existed but for an adoption, i.e. an employee's natural relatives.

The adult concerned will have to be in need of care for the employee to be eligible to make a request for flexible working. However, under the legislation, there is no particular level of care required in order to show the person is in need of care.

Eligible employees can request:

  • a change to the hours they work
  • a change to the times when they are required to work
  • to work from home

(This will cover a change to working patterns, for example compressed hours, flexitime, job-sharing, staggered hours and term-time working. However, applications will not always require a significant alteration; for example, the application may be for a slight change to start or finishing times to accommodate childcare needs, with the time made up during the working day.)

This is subject to the following provisions:

  • the initial onus is on the employee to make a considered application in writing;
  • an accepted application will mean a permanent change to the employee's terms and conditions of employment;
  • once the application is received, the employer will arrange to meet the employee within 28 days, to provide an opportunity to explore the desired work pattern in depth and to discuss how best it might be accommodated, or to consider other alternative working patterns should there be problems in accommodating the desired work pattern outlined in the application;
  • the employee has the right to bring a companion to this meeting (ie another employee, whether or not a trade union representative) and to any subsequent meeting to discuss his/her appeal;
  • the employer will write to the employee within 14 days after the meeting to either agree to a new work pattern and a start date or to provide business grounds as to why the application cannot be accepted and the reasons why they apply in the circumstances;
  • the employee has a right to appeal this decision within 14 days of receiving notification;
  • the employee has a right to appeal this decision within 14 days of receiving notification;
  • the employer should respond to this appeal by either holding a meeting or providing written notification of the decision.

You should note that under these provisions it may take up to 14 weeks to consider a request before it can be implemented and possibly longer where difficulties arise.

A summary of the time limits set under the Flexible Working Regulations for each stage of the application process is given below:

Stage in process Normal Time Limit
Arranging a meeting to discuss the employee's application 28 days
Notifying the employee of the department's decision regarding the application 14 days
Arranging a meeting to discuss the employee's appeal 14 days
Notifying the employee of the department's decision regarding the appeal 14 days

You and your department may agree to extend these time limits for any part of the statutory procedure in certain circumstances, as follows:

Through agreement by yourself and your department
In exceptional occasions it may not be possible to complete a particular part of the procedure within the specified time limit, for example because the member of staff who received your application needs extra time to speak to another employee about covering the hours left uncovered by the requested working pattern, or when you are taking leave and will not be able to attend a meeting within the time limit.
Any such agreement should be recorded in writing by the department, be dated, specify what time limit the extension relates to and specify the date on which the extension is to end. You must be provided with a written record of this agreement and will be asked to confirm that you have received this notification.
Through the employer's absence
For example where the member of staff who received your application is absent from work. In such circumstances an automatic extension applies. The period that the employer has to arrange the meeting will commence either on the day of the member of staff's return or 28 days after the application is made, whichever is sooner.

Process of Consideration

This is set out in the Flexible Working Policy.

If your application is accepted, a letter of approval will be sent to you and notification of amendments to the contractual terms and conditions including pay will be given.

If your application is rejected, you will receive a letter giving the operational reasons for the refusal and providing details of your right to appeal against the decision. Under the Flexible Working Regulations, the range of acceptable business reasons for rejecting an application is specified as being if one or more of the following grounds applies:

  1. the burden of additional costs,
  2. detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demands,
  3. inability to reorganise work among existing staff,
  4. inability to recruit additional staff,
  5. detrimental impact on quality or performance,
  6. insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work,
  7. planned structural changes.

(See form FLEXAF/DECISION for additional details).

Appeal Procedure

If you are dissatisfied with the decision made in respect of your application to work flexibly, you should make a complaint through the appropriate grievance procedure.

If your application has been made under the Flexible Working Regulations, you have a separate statutory right of appeal to the Head of Department (normally a different, more senior member of staff than the person who originally rejected the application) within 14 days of being notified of the decision. In addition, you have a right to be accompanied to the appeal meeting by another employee or a Trade Union representative.