Flexible working

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Applying for flexible working

Employees can apply for flexible working from their first day in a job. This is known as ‘making a statutory application.’

The basic steps are:

  1. The employee writes to the employer.

  2. The employer discusses the employee’s request with them and makes a decision on it within 2 months - or longer if agreed with the employee.

  3. If the employer agrees to the request, they must change the terms and conditions in the employee’s contract.

  4. If the employer disagrees, they must tell the employee giving the business reasons for the refusal. The employee may be able to complain to an employment tribunal.

The employer must discuss the employee’s request with them before refusing their application.

Employees can make 2 applications for flexible working in any 12-month period.

Writing to the employer

An employee should email or write a letter to their employer. The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) has a flexible working request template that employees can use.

Employers may ask employees to use a standard form to make an application.

What the email or letter must include

The application must include:

  • the date of the request
  • a statement that this is a statutory request for flexible working
  • details of how the employee wants to work flexibly and when they want to start
  • a statement saying if and when they’ve made a previous application - include the date of the previous request

Withdrawing an application

Employees should tell their employer in writing if they want to withdraw their application.

The employer can treat an application as withdrawn if the employee misses 2 meetings to discuss an application or appeal without good reason, for example sickness.

The employer must tell the employee they are treating the request as withdrawn.