Right to flexible working

What is flexible working?

If you find it difficult to balance your work life with your caring responsibilities (and your other commitments) you may want to ask for flexible working.  Flexible working could mean:
  • flexible starting and finishing hours
  • compressed working hours (where you work full-time hours but over fewer days)
  • term-time working
  • job share
  • part time working
  • working from home
It is a good idea to think about asking for flexible working rather than just giving up work altogether.  If you give up work it can have a huge impact on you financially, reduce the number of people you meet and talk to, and make it more difficult to return to work in the future. 

Who can ask for flexible working?

You don’t need to be a carer to ask for flexible working.  You have the right to ask for flexible working as long as you have been employed by your employer for 26 weeks (continuously) before you apply.  This is called making a statutory request. That means the law says your employer has to consider your request in a “reasonable manner”.
Some people, such as members of the armed services, can’t ask for flexible working.  To check if you can apply visit Flexible working - what is it? on the Citizen’s Advice website.
You can only apply for flexible working once a year.
The rules about who can ask for flexible working are different in Northern Ireland. To find out if you can apply visit http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/flexible-working

How to ask for flexible working

If you want to ask for flexible working check your employment contract and talk to your HR team/officer about what options are available where you work. You should also visit Flexible working - planning what changes to ask for on the Citizen’s Advice website.
To request flexible working you need to email or write a letter to your employer. Visit Applying for flexible working on the Gov.uk website for further advice about what to include in your letter. There is also a form on there that you can use if your employer agrees. 

What happens to your application?

Your employer should get back to you with an answer within three months of your request (unless you’ve agreed a longer timescale). They need to consider your request in a reasonable manner and can only refuse it for specific business reasons; for example, if the work can’t be redistributed among other staff. 
For more information visit After the application on the Gov.uk website.

Further information about flexible working

Carers UK have a lot of information about Your right to flexible working, including a downloadable guide.
The ACAS website has help and advice for both employers and employees about The right to request flexible working.

Information for employers and people who work with carers

Making sure your employees have a good work and life balance can benefit your business.  Your staff will be more focussed on work, less stressed, and less likely to leave.
There are around seven million carers in the UK – that is one in ten people. You are very likely to have carers working for you already, whether they have told you or not.  Your business will benefit from keeping them.
ACAS offer training on flexible working, as well as providing comprehensive guidance.  Find out more about The right to flexible working on the ACAS website. You can call the ACAS helpline on 0300 123 1100 for free support and advice. They also offer help online
If you work with carers you can find out more about the Right to request flexible working on the Carers Trust Professionals website.