Your step-by-step guide to requesting flexi-time

Looking for flexibility in your working hours? Maybe you want the option to choose office hours that suit your already-busy schedule. Equally, you may feel that you're more productive at certain times of the day and want to take advantage of that. Whatever your reason for wanting more control over your time, you're not alone.

Believe it or not, more than half of UK workers have some type of flexi-work, according to statistics from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. Despite this, many of us struggle when it comes to asking for it. Well, fear not. In this short guide, we'll cover your legal rights, how to ask your boss for flexi-time and everything in between.

What is flexi-time?

You may have heard of flexi-time, but do you know what it is? This type of work allows you to customise your office hours to suit you. For example, your boss may allow you to come in any time between 8 and 10 a.m. and leave any time between 4 and 6 p.m. So, long as you fulfil your contracted weekly hours, you can determine when you start and finish.

Of course, the meaning of flexi-time may change from company to company. For instance, some employers may allow you to leave early on a Friday if you work extra hours for the rest of the week. You may also be able to go for a "condensed working week" setup, in which you have an extra day off in exchange for working longer days in general. The point is that flexi-time is flexible ‒ both you and your employer determine a setup that works.

Step 1: Understand your legal rights

In the UK, you have the legal right to request flexi-time from an employer when you've worked for them for at least 26 weeks. You don't have to be a carer or parent to be eligible to apply for flexible working.

Unfortunately, your employer does not have to agree to your request. However, they do have to look at both the advantages and disadvantages of the application, hold a meeting to discuss your case, and offer an appeal process too. This is called assessing the request in a "reasonable manner." If your employer doesn't follow this process, you may be able to launch a tribunal. In that case, it is worth getting legal advice on the next steps.

Note that the law differs slightly if you live in Northern Ireland. You can read more about the exact legislation on nidirect online.

Step 2: Decide what you're asking for

One of the most important steps when we talk about asking for flexi-time is deciding what you want. You need to be 100% clear on what you're asking for when you submit your application. That means you should take the time to consider what schedule will work for you and how this new setup will impact your role.

Write out the terms of your request. For example, you could outline that you will still be working your contracted hours but would like the option to work longer hours on Wednesdays and shorter hours on Thursdays. Whatever your request, it's personal to you and your schedule. You will also need to outline any times when this may change in the future.

Step 3: Weigh up the advantages

Since your employer needs to assess the advantages of flexi-work, you may want to highlight them. Ahead of broaching this topic with your boss, put together a list of the benefits they'll reap through your flex-work. Put simply, you need to negotiate a system that works for both you and your employer. So, for a brief moment, put yourself in their shoes.

What will they gain from giving you flexi-time? Start by thinking about how having flexi-time will improve your working style. For instance, according to research conducted in 2012, being offered flexi-work could increase a person's productivity and lower their instances of taking sick leave. After a brainstorm, write down how you believe that having flexi-work will make you a better employee and improve your output.

Step 4: Submit a statutory application

The correct way to request flex-time is to submit a statutory application. Don't worry ‒ this process sounds much more intimidating than it actually is. In simple terms, you have to write to your employer with your request. Outline all relevant information including your terms, the benefits of flexi-work, and when you would like this job change to start. Your employer has three months to consider your request.

During this time, your boss will need to assess the advantages and disadvantages of granting you flexi-time and have a meeting with you to discuss the request. If, after doing so, your employer decides not to grant you the right to flexi-time, they should also offer you a proper appeal process.

If, on the other hand, they decide to agree to your request, they will need to change your contract to include the new terms. They will also state when your flexi-time term starts and any other conditions that they choose to place on it. Needless to say, you need to make sure that you read your new contract in full before signing anything.

Remember, you can apply once a year

Being looked over for flexi-time can be tough. However, there's a glimmer of hope on the horizon: according to UK law, you can apply for this type of work once a year. So, if you do intend to stay with the same company for that period, it's worth making a note to remind yourself to re-submit your request at the same time next year.

Alternatively, you may want to seek out a brand new role that offers flexi-time as standard. If that's the case, you'll need to start preparing for a job search by conducting some research and revamping your CV.

Even without flexi-time, you can improve your CV on your own time. Click here to submit yours for a free CV review.

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