By Lyndsey Hall
Flexible working is a hot topic right now, with high profile social media campaigns promoting the benefits to businesses of moving away from the traditional 9-to-5, chained-to-your-desk style of working. Since the introduction of flexible working for all back in 2014, thousands of requests have been submitted, and many have been granted, but what is flexible working and how can you take advantage of it?
What is flexible working?
According to the Government’s page on the subject, flexible working refers to “working that suits an employee’s needs”, and can involve flexible start and finish times, job sharing, compressed or annualised hours, as well as working from home. It’s a culture-shift from being tied to your desk, under the watchful gaze of your boss between 9am and 5pm, to working when, where and how is best for you. That could be to avoid a long and laborious commute; to allow you to care for your pets or check in daily on elderly parents; or even just to suit your natural body clock if you’re an early bird or a night owl.
Who can make a request to work flexibly?
In the past, only parents and carers were allowed to put in requests to work flexibly, allowing them to fit their work around their other responsibilities. Whilst other employees could submit requests, their employer was not legally obligated to consider them, but now anyone can request flexible working, as long as they’ve worked for the same employer for 26 weeks or more, and have their request seriously considered. This doesn’t necessarily mean your request will be accepted, your employer can reject it if there is a legitimate reason why your role cannot be undertaken from home or the hours you have requested are unfeasible.
What can I do if I believe my request hasn’t been handled correctly?
If you disagree with the way your request has been handled, for example if it’s been rejected outright without due consideration, or you believe you’ve been the victim of discrimination, then there is support available. You can take your employer to tribunal, especially if your rejected application has forced you to resign your position, amounting to constructive dismissal.
For more information on the application process, and to download the Acas code of practice for handling requests in a reasonable manner, visit the Government’s page on flexible working.