How to apply for flexible working

What steps do you need to follow to apply for flexible working, and how we can help.

Get support early

Your CSP steward can support you in making a request - approach them for help as early as possible.

Employers have up to two months (or longer if you both agree) to provide a decision, so prepare well before you need any new arrangements to start.

Work out what impact any changes will have on you

e.g. A reduction in hours will mean a reduction in your pay, annual leave and pension.

And for any changes, you won’t have the automatic right to revert back to your old working pattern.  So, consider if you want any changes to be temporary. If so, be clear how long you want the arrangements to last. 

Consider making a formal application

You may be able to agree a new working arrangement without a formal application – but make sure any changes are put in writing and your employment contract is suitably amended.

If you submit a formal application, check whether your employer has a template form for you to complete. If not, use the government application form (GB | NI)

Your request must be made in writing (by letter, email or fax). 

See ACAS guidance on what must be included.  You don’t have to explain why you want change, but it may be helpful. For example, if it is for childcare reasons this could help support a claim later for indirect discrimination if the request is refused

Keep copies of all correspondence and notes of any meetings or conversations

Get everything in writing including any agreement reached. Keep copies of all letters, emails and notes of phone calls. This evidence may be needed later if the employer does not stick to the procedure or timescales.

Be aware that if you don’t attend any meeting (or subsequent re-arranged meeting) to discuss your request without good reason, your employer can treat the request as having been withdrawn. If you can’t make a meeting – e.g. due to illness or childcare emergency – make sure your employer confirms in writing that they agree you had good reason.

Prepare your case

Be prepared to negotiate an arrangement that suits you and the service - so decide how flexible you can be.

Your employer must consider any request seriously.  They should meet you - and possibly your steward - to talk through any concerns and how they can be overcome. But, it is up to you and your steward to demonstrate how the new arrangement might work, and overcome problems. So, get colleagues’ input - they may want to change their hours, freeing up funding to create a new post for example. Also, find out how other staff have set up successful arrangements.

How your request should be treated

The employer must deal with the request in a reasonable manner and give a decision within 2months of the request.

If your employer agrees

Usually your employer will want to meet you and your steward to make sure they understand the new arrangements and that nothing has been overlooked.  Once agreed, employers should meet ACAS guidance for approved requests.  

If your employer has doubts

If you employer has concerns about a proposal, ACAS recommends trialling new arrangements for a set time.  Agree a timeframe and then hold a review meeting to identify any problems and how they can be overcome.

If your employer refuses your request they must give you their reasons in writing. Their refusal must be based on at least one of eight specified business reasons, outlined by ACAS.

You can appeal against this decision. 

  • Check your employer’s policy for any time limits that may apply. 
  • Outside the NHS, consultation is now required if an employer refuses a request

Use your appeal or consultation to open up a meaningful dialogue about any issues raise.  If your employer has concerns, suggest a trial period for example.

You may have recourse to an employment tribunal but strict rules and timescales apply. Speak to your CSP steward or the Enquiries Team.

If your maternity leave is coming to an end and you still have not reached agreement

  • You can ask your employer for a further period of parental, unpaid or annual leave.
  • Write to your employer to remind them of the urgent need to resolve the situation.
  • If they have not followed procedures or time limits speak to your steward about submitting a grievance.
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