What are my rights to flexible working?

There’s a wealth of surveys and polling showing dads want flexible working. So how do you go about making it happen?

The words flexible working written on a post it note next to a keyboard and a pen


There’s increasing agreement that flexible working is set to be a big trend in the 2020s. Whether that’s from industry experts who can see which way the wind is blowing or surveys that find huge swathes of working dads desperate for a work pattern that fits with their family commitments. 

A lottery winner even recently made it his number one wish now he’s rich rather than the traditional big house and a fast car!

But if that’s you how do you go about making it happen? John Baird, of Scotland Debt Solutions explains the basics around your rights and how to make a flexible working application.

What are my flexible working rights?

Traditional employment is typically associated with strict working hours, fixed shifts and a lack of flexibility around working style. Legally speaking, any employee can submit a flexible working request, not just if you’re a carer or parent. Flexible working can vary to include an adjustment in working hours, working days and the designated location from which you carry out your work.

There are several forms of flexible working which could open the doors to a more reasonable way of working when having other commitments in life, such as health and caring for children or dependents.

Can I request flexible working from my employer?

Working as a self-employed professional, freelancer or sole trader can allow for the flexibility and freedom to tailor each detail of your working life. This style of working allows you to be your own boss; however, the income structure can be volatile which is a common hurdle experienced by the self-employed.

On the other hand, busting the myth that traditional employment is a rigid 9-5 way of working, we take you through what a flexible working request is, eligibility, submitting an application and next steps if your request has been rejected.

You have a day one right to apply for flexible working if you meet the following criteria:

  • Your legal status is that of an employee
  • You haven’t made two other flexible working requests in the last 12 months
  • If you do not meet the criteria, your workplace may have an alternative internal system in place to deal with flexible working requests.

What is a flexible working request?

As an employee, if you want to request a change in your shifts or how you work, a flexible working request may be the answer. Here are some of the ways you can work flexibly:

  • Switch from full-time employment to part-time
  • Adjust start and finish times. You can also request ‘staggered hours’ which means working at different times than your colleagues, such as alternative start, finish, lunch and break times
  • You can apply for ‘flexi-time’ which requires you to complete your core hours and the remaining hours can be made up at a time suitable to you. ‘Annualised hours’ follows the same concept, however, it sets out a total of hours for the year which should be completed and the remaining hours can be made up at a time suitable to you
  • If you would like to trim your working week by compressing more hours into a working day, you can request for ‘compressed hours’
  • A request for ‘remote working’ can give you the flexibility to work from your home, an office closer to you or another alternative location
  • You may request a ‘job-share’ which allows you to divide your working hours with another colleague or a new recruit, in turn, splitting the responsibility
  • Any of the above requests can be requested on the basis that the arrangement is permanent, temporary, applicable only on specific days, alternative weeks or lasting just for the school holiday period.

How will my employer respond?

If you meet the criteria listed above, your employer must take your request for flexible working into serious consideration. Here are the next steps your employer should take:

  • The decision must be made within 2 months of submitting the request
  • Your employer must reasonably assess your request. To do so, they may request a meeting to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages and offer you the right to appeal if your request has been refused. If your employer fails to seriously deal with your request, you have the right to take them to an employment tribunal for unlawful treatment
  • Your employer must follow the ACAS Code of Practice which sets out how to handle a flexible working request in a reasonable manner
  • Refusal and Appeal process for a flexible working request

If your flexible working request has been refused, you have the right to appeal. If you can’t work this out informally, submit a formal written request for appeal detailing your reason(s) for appeal and your intended outcome. And if you feel that your appeal has not been handled correctly, you can lodge a formal complaint or apply to take the matter to an employment tribunal.

My rights to flexible working as a working dad

As a working dad, you may desire to explore your flexible working options to better plan your routine around your child or children, adjusting the way you work to make sure you never miss any of memorable moments; from the school pick-ups, the all-important summer plays and the dreaded poetry readings. Speak to your employer or your HR department to further discuss your flexible working rights and any other internal initiatives you should be aware of.

Scotland Debt Solutions is a personal debt solution for Scots struggling from personal debt. John is an experienced debt adviser, providing a range of solutions such as Trust Deeds and Debt Arrangement Schemes. 

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