How do I make a flexible working request?

Some employers want their staff to make a return to the workplace. A fifth of businesses say that they will expect staff to be in the office five days a week once all restrictions have lifted.

What can you do as an employee if you want to continue to work from home or change your working hours or working pattern? One option is to make a flexible working request.

Under the Employment Rights Act 1996 employees have a statutory right to make a flexible working request.

To make a valid request you must:-

  • Have 26 weeks continuous employment at the date that you make your request.
  • Make your request in writing and date it.
  • Make clear that it is a request for flexible working under the statutory procedure.
  • Explain what change you are requesting and when you would like it to start.
  • Identify any impact the change may have on your employer and say how you will deal with that impact.
  • You should say if you have previously made an application for flexible working and if so give the date of that request.
  • You can only make one request in any 12 month period.

Your request is more likely to be successful if you provide as much information as possible about the change you are requesting. What has led to you making the request? How do you think the changes you are seeking can be accommodated by your employer?

If your employer cannot accommodate your request in full it may be able to find an alternative way of working that fulfils your needs.

Your employer should deal with your request in a reasonable manner and notify you of their decision within three months or longer if they agree an extension with you. If your employer refuses your request, they may do so only on one or more of the following eight grounds:

  1. The burden of additional costs.
  2. Detrimental effect on the business’s ability to meet customer demand;
  3. Inability to reorganise work among existing staff.
  4. Inability to recruit additional staff;
  5. Detrimental impact on quality.
  6. Detrimental impact on performance.
  7. Insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work. or
  8. Planned structural changes.

Your employer may have a flexible working policy as part of the staff handbook and it would be sensible to review this before making your request so you can make sure you follow your employers procedure.

If you need help to make a flexible working request or your request has been refused and you would like advice then please contact a member of the Employment Team on or by telephone on 0118 951 6621.