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Flexible working

Woman working at home at a laptop while on the phone. Links to flexible working

If you’re returning to work after a period away, or you have health issues or caring responsibilities, exploring flexible working opportunities may be just the thing for you.

What is flexible working?

Flexible working describes a way of working that suits an employee’s needs, as well as the employer.

As the working world modernises, employers are introducing more flexible working practices to recruit and retain the best talent.

Examples of flexible working:

  • Part-time work – working fewer hours in a week
  • Flexi time – choosing the pattern you work
  • Hybrid working – a combination of working in your usual place of work and working from home
  • Condensed or compressed hours – working your hours over fewer days
  • Job-sharing – two or more employees divide a job to cover a full-time role
  • Staggered shifts – employees have different start and finish times to their colleagues, to suit their circumstances
  • Term time working – hours to suit working parents
  • Annualised hours – hours worked over a year, often in set shifts with you deciding when to work. 

How can flexible working help me?

Flexible working has many benefits. If you are looking for a job, flexible working could make it possible for you to consider different types of jobs.

If you are already in work, it can give you an improved work life balance, increased job satisfaction and help you be more productive in your role. It can also help you to better manage any caring responsibilities you may have.

Making a request for flexible working

If the jobs you’re applying for don’t have flexible working as part of the job description, you have the right to make a request for flexible working when you’ve worked for your employer for 26 weeks or more. Some employers will allow you to make a request before this, so check your workplace’s policy.

You must put your request in writing, and your employer should talk to you before making a decision. You need to say that you’re making a ‘statutory flexible working request’ and should also include:

  • the date you’re sending the request
  • the change you’d like to make
  • when you’d like the change to start
  • how you or your employer might deal with the effect of the change – it might also be useful to state any benefits the change would have for you or the employer
  • the date of any previous flexible working requests.

Find more information on making a flexible working request on the acas website (external website) including a request letter template.

Take a Midlife MOT

If you are thinking about flexible working options, use the DWP digital Midlife MOT to take stock of your work, health and money with future planning in mind.