The right to request
Some employees will have a legal ('statutory') right to ask for a change to their contract with a 'flexible working request'.
For example, they might ask to:
- reduce their hours to work part time
- change their start and finish time
- have flexibility with their start and finish times (sometimes known as 'flexitime')
- do their hours over fewer days ('compressed hours')
- work from home or elsewhere ('remote working'), all or part of the time
- share the job with someone else
The change could be for:
- all working days
- specific days or shifts only
- specific weeks only, for example during school term time
- a limited time, for example for 6 months only
Who has the right to request
Employees have the right to make a flexible working request if:
- you've employed them for at least 26 weeks
- they're legally classed as an employee
- they've not made another flexible working request in the last 12 months
If the request is from a parent or carer
The right to request flexible working applies to all employees, including those who are:
- women returning from maternity leave
Requests from parents or carers should not be prioritised over requests from other employees.
If the request is from an employee who's disabled
You should encourage employees to make any type of request that relates to a disability as a reasonable adjustment request.
The main reasons for this are that:
- a reasonable adjustment request is often the fastest and most effective way to address a disability-related request
- equality law might require you to respond to a disability-related request faster than your flexible working process allows
- disability-related requests fall under equality law – you should consider them separately from flexible working requests
If an employee makes a flexible working request and you think it might relate to disability, ask them if this is the case. You should do this sensitively, such as in a private chat.
If it does relate to disability, see if they want to make a reasonable adjustment request instead. If they do not, or if the request is not related to disability, continue to treat it as a flexible working request.