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Flexible working introduction image

Flexible working

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. Employees must have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks to be eligible. There are a number of benefits to flexible working, such as an increased level of job satisfaction, improved work/life balance and an increase in employee morale and motivation - all of which will benefit your business as well as your employee.

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According to the CIPD’s Flexible Working Business Case, workers were more likely to be attracted into a position that offers flexible working hours, and the option to request flexible working is more likely to boost engagement, increase job satisfaction, loyalty and retention. It is found that staff are more likely to recommend the company as a good place to work if these factors are offered from the start and implemented throughout the team.

Read about the case

What flexible working includes thumbnail image

What flexible working includes

Remote and hybrid working:

It might be possible to do some or all of the work from home or anywhere else other than the normal place of work. Hybrid working is a form of flexible working where workers spend some of their time working remotely and some time in an office.


Working less than full-time hours (usually by working fewer days).

Compressed hours:

Working full-time hours, but over fewer days.


The employee chooses when to start and end work (within agreed limits) but works certain ‘core hours’, for example 10am to 4pm everyday.

Annualised hours:

The employee has to work a certain number of hours over the year but they have some flexibility about when they work. There are sometimes ‘core hours’, which the employee regularly works each week and they work the rest of their hours flexibly or when there’s extra demand at work.

Staggered hours:

The employee has different start, finish and break times from other workers.

Phased retirement:

Default retirement age has been phased out and older workers can choose when they want to retire. This means they can reduce their hours and work part-time.

CIPD offers advice on adjusting to new flexible working due to the pandemic. Download the guide here.

A guide to home working from Acas thumbnail image

A guide to home working from Acas

This guide focuses on regular homeworking, aimed primarily at office related roles. The guide draws on Acas’ extensive experience over almost 20 years of employing staff who work from home for some or most of their hours. Key influences have included identifying roles that are suitable, technology making it possible, pressure on office space, efficient budget use and staff desire to work from home.

This will help you to:

  • Understand why home working arrangements are growing in popularity
  • The practicalities involved in establishing a home working policy
  • Understanding the benefits and considerations for home working

Download the guide here.

CIPD flexible working checklist download thumbnail image

CIPD flexible working checklist download

Before you begin the process of implementing flexible working in your organisation, use this checklist to help you identify its facilitators and barriers.

This will help you to:

  • Facilitate a healthy organisational culture
  • Gain support from leaders within your business
  • Develop a flexible working strategy and policy

Download the checklist here.

Guidance on home and hybrid working thumbnail image

Guidance on home and hybrid working

A policy is set up to protect both employers and employees. It sets out the expectations of the flexible working, restrictions as to where an employee can work and how long the policy will run before it is reviewed again.

Acas offers help and advice to set up your own policy.

The CIPD also has a guide for how to plan for hybrid working.

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Handling requests in a reasonable way

Anyone who has been working within a company for more than 26 weeks can request flexible hours. Acas has information on how to deal with a request reasonably as an employer.

Get started checklists

  • Plan ahead and ensure you fully understand the implications and process
  • Once flexible working has been offered to staff, ensure they are aware of the changes and how this affects their role
  • Ensure managers or team leaders are supportive of flexible working and trained in order to manage this
  • Inform all staff about flexible working arrangements - even if it is not applicable to them
  • Ensure contracts are adjusted and signed by the employee
  • Complete a home working health and safety assessment (if applicable)
  • Ensure you have the correct insurance cover (i.e. employee public liability, equipment in the home and equipment in transit)
  • Understand any technical requirements or limitations such as ICT, internet, technical security and backup issues, etc.
  • Agree contact hours with your flexible working staff and ensure a clear process is outlined so that they are clear what is expected of them
Download the checklist


Are employees entitled to request flexible working?

Yes. If they have been legally employed by you for longer than 26 weeks, it is their legal ‘statutory’ right to request flexible working.

Can I reject an employees request for flexible working?

By law, a request can only be turned down if:

  • It will cost your business too much
  • You cannot reorganise the work among other staff
  • You cannot recruit more staff
  • There will be a negative effect on quality
  • There will be a negative effect on the business’ ability to meet customer demand
  • There will be a negative effect on performance
  • There’s not enough work for your employee to do when they’ve requested to work
  • There are planned changes to the business, for example, you intend to reorganise or change the business and think the request will not fit with these plans
What can I do if I have to reject a request for flexible working?

Communicate the reasons why to your employee who has requested the changes, listen to the reasons they’ve requested it and see if there is a possible compromise. Offer to review your decision in 3 - 6 months’ time depending on your circumstances.

Do I need to put it in writing that my employee is now working flexibly?

Yes, you must do this within a month of the change taking effect. This includes changes to working hours, pay, job location, holiday entitlement.

What are the benefits of flexible working?
  • Some of the time saved on travelling to work can be spent increasing productivity
  • If several of your staff work flexibly you could share desk space and reduce your overheads or expand without the need for more office space
  • You can attract a higher calibre of staff by offering a good work life balance or allowing them to carry out remote working without having to relocate
  • Motivated staff show increasing personal productivity and are less likely to take sick leave
  • Staff retention is increased, as is the proportion of women who return to work after maternity leave because of the improved work life balance