Flex for all the family

HR expert Anna Ives shares her insight on how to get flexible working and why it can work for everyone



There’s plenty of evidence that flexible working makes men better employees and more engaged dads. But what about being a better partner? Anna Ives is a HR expert fluent in all things flexible working. Here she writes about how you going flexible could help your other half.


Being an HR/ flexible working expert, you would expect me to work my magic on all my family and friends, right? Helping them all achieve a better work life balance – Well you could say that…

Currently my mum and my husband work flexibly. My mum does compressed hours, (full time over four days, which gives her one day at home to look after my kids), my husband works a nine-day fortnight, working slightly longer days over nine days and on the 10th day (i.e. the end of two working weeks) he has a day off. Once his friends got wind of this, they made successful applications too.

Different patterns

There are so many different patterns when it comes to flexible working and you need to do something that works for you. I would always advise having a good think about what would work for you, what do you want? What childcare options are there for you, then think about how it would work for work – it’s important to be flexible within your flexible working pattern. Then you can look at what pattern would fit in with this, and what flexibility looks like to you.

But if you would like some idea of different working patterns here are some of the most popular ones:

  • Working from home
  • Compressed hours
  • Part-time hours
  • A mix of working from home and being office based
  • Earlier start and or finish times
  • A nine-day fortnight
  • The benefits

Parental leave

So what’s available to dads in terms of doing some flexible working? Well, the standard legal options for men to have time off to spend with your new arrival are poor (to say the least)

  • One or two weeks paid paternity leave
  • Shared parental leave
  • Unpaid parental leave

So, who wouldn’t want the opportunity to apply for flexible working to be able to spend some more time at home while you children are small? (Although, remember anyone can apply for flexible working, you don’t have to have children).

If you work flexibly you’re able to give your partner that extra support and you get to see your child when you would usually be at work or travelling to work. There are different ways of making it work, some without reducing any pay (although you might have to work longer days like my husband) or it can be as small as working from home one day a week and saving time on that lengthy commute.

Then when/if your partner returns back to work, you can have more one to one time just you and your child. Or by working from home, you can help out with the daily logistics of getting everyone out of (or back to) the house.

Informal or formal

It is a simple as that. So why not give it a go? Think about how it could work for you both, then either have an informal chat with work/your manager or fill out a flexible working application. It’s really important that, whether informally agreed with your manager or through the formal application process, you must inform HR and have your contract amended accordingly – otherwise you could be in breach of contract.

If it’s not for you, or you’re thinking that will never work at my work – give it a go anyway. You never know where it will lead. Or it might just work out like it did for us. My husband had every other Friday off during my second maternity leave, which we spent as a family and now I’m back at work he alternates the Friday with my mother in law, saving a days’ worth of childcare fees and allowing me to work every Friday.

If you would like support writing your flexible working application or if it goes wrong and you need to appeal please email [email protected].

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