Flexible working policy

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What's a flexible working policy, and when do you need it?

You should have a flexible working policy in place for your employees.

Flexible working can come in a variety of different forms. It might involve reducing or varying an employee’s hours, the days that they work, or changing their work location. Common examples of flexible working include:

  1. Part-time working

  2. Term-time working (the employee does not work during the school holidays)

  3. Annualised hours (often used for shift-workers, this describes an arrangement where an employee works a certain number of hours throughout the year, but with some flexibility around when the hours are worked. Typically, some of the time is set on a shift, or regular hours basis, with the remainder taken up on as ‘as needed’ basis.)

  4. Compressed hours (where the employee works the same number of hours as a full-time worker, but over fewer days)

  5. Flexitime (here, the employee can choose when to start and end work (within agreed limits) but will generally work certain core hours within this arrangement, e.g. every working day, they will work 10.30am to 3pm.)

  6. Staggered hours (the employee starts, ends and takes breaks at different times to other workers.)

  7. Home working (the employee works some or all of their hours out of the office, either at home or an alternative location that is not on any of our business premises.)

  8. Job sharing (two employees do the one job, splitting the duties and hours between them.)

By law, employees with at least 26 weeks' continuous employment can make a request for flexible working for any reason. The employee triggers the statutory procedure by making a written request to you for flexible working. You then have a three-month decision period (which can be extended by agreement with the employee), within which to consider the employee’s request, discuss it with the employee (if appropriate) and notify the employee of the outcome. You must handle the application reasonably, but you are not obliged to say yes, and there are eight reasons set out in the legislation, one or more of which you are allowed to apply to justify your refusal. (No other grounds are likely to be legally acceptable.) However, your employee can complain to a tribunal if you fail to handle their request according to the rules.

Only one request for flexible working can be made by an employee in any 12-month period.

Our experts recommend that you do not give this policy contractual status in any employment contract that you put in place, but that you do reference it in that contract, make clear that the employee is expected to comply with the policy and that you have the right to update or revise it, in your discretion and when you want to.

This template includes all the statutory requirements, as well as optional elements for you to consider.