After almost 2 years of juggling endless Zoom meetings, homeschooling and banana bread making, you’d expect working flexibly to be a given.
But still, for many employers, flextime and remote work aren’t the norm.
So, what is flexible working?
The options are endless…
- Work less hours (AKA part-time)
- Job sharing with someone
- Start and finish times that fit with personal commitments
- Same hours over fewer days (AKA compressed hours)
- Work from home or remotely
- Shift work
- Term-time only
It can be a permanent change, only apply to specific days, weeks or be temporary.
And, you don’t need to be a parent or carer to ask for flexible hours or remote work.
Everyone can make a request!
Is it worth it?
We all want to achieve some sort of balance.
And, if you’d like to stay in a job and self-employment isn’t an option, working flexibly can be what you need.
Here’s my formula to measure work-life balance:
Income + Happiness – Stress level
Sure, flexible working hours may affect your career development, salary and benefits.
But you’ll have more time to do things that make you happy.
And it can reduce the stress of juggling too many things.
Sounds like what you need?
Here are 3 ways to make a flexible working request:
1. Make a statutory flexible working request
It’s a formal request that you legally have a right to make, as long as:
- You’re employed
- For at least 26 weeks in the same company
- And haven’t made another request in the last 12 months
Don’t sweat it if you don’t meet all the conditions!
Check your employer’s flexible working policy as you might still be able to apply.
Your application has to be in writing and include:
- The date of your request for flexible working arrangements
- What change you’d like to make and from when
- How to deal with the effect of the change on your work, colleagues or the business
- If you’ve applied in the past and when
- If you’re asking for flexibility because of something covered by the Equality Act 2010 (i.e. sex, gender reassignment, age, race, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation or pregnancy and maternity)
- Why you’re making a request, if you think it will help.
Top tip – put yourself in your manager’s shoes and be realistic about the impact the change will have on the business. For example if you’re in a public facing role, working remotely might not be the best option. Also, if you’re reducing your hours, how can the work be redistributed? You don’t want to do a full-time job on a part-time salary.
Your employer has to make a decision within 3 months and must look at your request fairly.
2. Make a non-statutory flexible working request
If you’re not entitled to make a statutory request, you can still ask informally.
But, your employer doesn’t have to consider your request seriously, respond to you quickly or follow a clear policy for you to apply or appeal..
Top tip – Put in writing and include similar information as in a statutory request.
3. Look for a new flexible job
Most people think that when you change jobs, you have to start full-time.
But if you do, you might have to wait 26 weeks to be entitled to request flexible working arrangements.
No way Jose!
If working flexibly is a deal-breaker, ask for it as part of your offer negotiation.
Get ready to negotiate!
If you’re already working, your manager should set up a meeting to discuss your request before making their decision.
If you’re not, you’ll have this conversation with the recruiter or the hiring manager.
Be prepared to talk about why and how the change can work for both you and the business and consider other flexible working options.
Don’t lose your shit, even if your boss is being an arse.
Stay calm and positive and, if you need, take time to consider what to do next.
What if they say NO?
If your employer declines a statutory request, they have to give you a reason. If you don’t agree, check your flexible working policy on how to appeal. You could even take them to an employment tribunal.
Top tip – If you think your employer isn’t too keen on flex work, start with an informal request so you can try again with a different proposal instead of waiting a year to make another one.
For non-statutory requests, they don’t have to explain why they refused. But if you think they’re discriminating against you, you can take the bastards to court too!
And for a new job… Well, you have to decide if you want to take the job and try later (if they said ‘no’ now, what will they say in 26 weeks?) or give it a miss.
What if they say YES?
Your contract will change to reflect your new working pattern and you’re one step closer to achieving the holy work-life balance.
Need a hand with your application?