What is flexible working?
Flexible working is a working arrangement which gives some flexibility on how long, where, when and at what times employees work.
The flexibility can relate to:
- working time (for example, part-time, flexitime)
- working location (such as working from home)
- the pattern of working (for example, job share)
Flexible working: you have a right to ask
Under the Employment Rights Act 1996 there is a statutory right for any eligible employee to request flexible working, for any reason. Find out how to request flexible working in our quick guide.
Why are we encouraging employers to offer flexible working practices?
Flexible working options are attractive to many employees. Our research found that over two thirds of mothers (68%) made a request for at least one type of flexible working practice, with most being approved.
However, over a third of the women who had their requests approved didn’t request the flexibility they wanted because they thought it would be viewed negatively or wouldn’t be approved, while over half said it led to negative consequences.
To make businesses the best they can be for pregnant women and new mothers, we’re encouraging more employers to be open and transparent about their flexible working options and to promote these during recruitment.
Employers: what you need to know
Employers: what's stopping you introducing flexible working?
Myths about flexible working may prevent employers from integrating flexible working options into their workplaces. We challenge these in our myth busters: challenging negative ideas about flexible working (PDF).
Top tips for offering flexible working
- where appropriate, advertise jobs as open to flexible working and promote a wide range of flexible working practices
- trial new ways of working
- be transparent and clear about the types of flexible working the organisation has considered, offered and granted
- celebrate and showcase examples where flexible working is successful
Who's using flexible working successfully?
Further guidance on using flexible working
CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, has some useful guidance on flexible working.
The business case for flexible working
76 percent of employers report that flexible working improves staff retention and 73 percent say it improves staff motivation.
Why is flexible working beneficial for both employers and employees?
Flexible working: a win-win for employee and employer.
The benefits for businesses:
- Deliver a more flexible service to customers
- Increase employee engagement
- Attract people from a more diverse talent pool
The benefits for employees:
- Better work/life balance
- Feel under less pressure
- More likely to stay with their employer
The demand for flexible working options will continue to grow.
- People are living and working longer
- More people are balancing work with caring responsibilities
- Career expectations are changing
Last updated: 17 Dec 2018