Flexible working is a way of working that suits an employee’s needs, for example having flexible start and finish times, or working from home.
Flexible working rules are different in Northern Ireland.
All employees have the legal right to request flexible working. Employees can request a change to:
- the number of hours they work
- when they start or finish work
- the days they work
- where they work
This is known as ‘making a statutory application’.
Employees must have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks to be eligible.
From 6 April 2024, employees will be able to request flexible working from their first day in a new job.
What employers must do
Employers must deal with requests in a ‘reasonable manner’.
Examples of handling requests in a reasonable manner include:
- assessing the advantages and disadvantages of the application
- holding a meeting to discuss the request with the employee
- offering an appeal process
If an employer does not handle a request in a reasonable manner, the employee can take them to an employment tribunal.
An employer can refuse an application if they have a good business reason for doing so.