Applying for flexible working

As an employee, you have a legal right to apply for flexible working and your application must be duly considered. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean it will automatically be accepted.

Flexible Working


As a Dad, balancing the demands of work with family life can be a challenge, and often flexible working can present an attractive solution.

There are a few things to consider when you apply for flexible working that could help your request be successful.

Read on to find out more.

The process to apply for flexible working

As an employee you can request flexible working from day one in a new job (as of April 2024). It involves writing to your manager and stating:

  • The date
  • That this is a statutory request
  • How you want to work flexible and from when
  • How flexible working might affect the business and how this could be managed
  • Whether or not you’ve applied before, and when.

Your employer has to consider the request and make a decision within two months. If they agree, they change the T&Cs in your contract. If not, they must write to you detailing the business reasons why.

Be clear about what you want

So, with this in mind, you need to be very clear about what you’re asking for. Are you seeking to go part-time, be part of a job share, compress your hours or work remotely?

Whichever approach you choose, you need to think through the various tasks that are part of your job and demonstrate how they would continue to work under the new, flexible approach.

Note that you only need to formally request flexible working if you’re seeking a permanent change to your working pattern – such as your overall total hours, your main work location or permanent changes to start and finish times.

Remember that while the process outlined above is a formal request for flexible working, you can also pursue an ‘informal’ request. An example would be asking to work from home on some occasions or flex your hours to come in late or leave early on an ad hoc basis.

Talk to your colleagues

On receiving your application, your manager is likely to talk to your colleagues about how your proposed approach might work in practice, especially if it has an impact on them. It will be a big help if they are already aware of your thoughts on this and are able to see your side and, ideally, back you up.

Spend some time in advance of your application talking to them. They may have good ideas that will strengthen your request.

Have a back-up plan

Employers are entitled to reject your application if it creates unreasonable costs, if the work can’t be reorganised among the team or they will need to recruit additional people. They can also decline if it will affect quality, performance, delivery to customers or if there’s not enough work at the times you’re requesting to work. Another obstruction is when there are organisational structure changes planned.

Informal vs formal requests

So you should be ready with a compromise in case your proposal doesn’t get through. It might be that you can informally negotiate a start time that allows you to do the school run before work, for example, and make the time up at the end of the day.

Before you decide on your best approach, look around your organisation at the types of flexible working that are already in place. Have a chat with people in flexible roles about how they achieved it. Also worth noting is that you have a legal right to make up to two formal flexible working requests in a 12 month period.

Many dads have successfully negotiated flexible working to suit their family life – fingers crossed, you can join them!

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