Flexible Working

What is it?

Flexible working allows you to work outside the usual nine-to-five schedule. It can mean varying shifts, working from home, part-time or job-sharing positions, short contracts, on-call jobs and other patterns.

Your right to ask

With a few exceptions, employees in the UK who’ve completed at least 26 weeks of continuous service have a legal right to request flexible working. Your boss can turn down your request, but must give you one of a list of permitted business reasons - such as extra cost, or a possible impact on performance.

This means you have a full-time job but regularly take some time off during normal hours, making up the hours later. It could be to look after children, or another commitment like attending college, being part of a sports team or working for charity.

This usually means there’s a core period when you have to be at work - say in the middle of the day - but you can choose when to do the rest of your required hours. You can then clock in early or clock off late, depending on what suits you.

With condensed hours, you work for longer on fewer days, but complete the same overall total. For example, you could do 35 hours over four days instead of five, giving you a three-day weekend.

This covers a wide range of options, including freelance or consultancy work, but can also include going to the office some days and staying at home on others. You save commuting time and expense. It can offer a good solution for parents returning to work.

This is standard practice in some sectors like healthcare and catering, and it’s now becoming more common across other industries, like call centres. It can mean you have free time during the day - but remember you’ll need to get some rest, whatever hours you work.

There are part-time jobs in just about every industry, including highly-skilled professional roles. It could be anything from a few hours to a substantial commitment over a large part of the week.

This is a good way to enjoy the responsibility of a full-time job while still only working for part of the normal weekly schedule. Typically two people split the work of one full-time role.

If you’re a parent or guardian, a job that gives you time-off in the school holidays could be a solution to child-care demands.

With an on-call job, you only work when your employer’s staffing needs require it. This can offer flexibility, but you may not know how much time you’ll have free from one week to the next.

This could be anything from seasonal/project work in a sectors like construction, or tourism, to a self-contained or one-off project in businesses such as accountancy, marketing or IT. Temporary positions like this can suit freelancers, students and others who want to work for a defined period.