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 can make a request for flexible working from their first day in a 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
  • discussing possible alternatives to the request
  • offering an appeal process

Read the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) code of practice on flexible working requests.

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.