Flexible working

Date last updated: 28 January 2022

Applying for flexible working

Changing or reducing your working hours so that they fit better with your other commitments or lifestyle is called flexible working.

What is flexible working?

Flexible working involves asking your employer for reasonable changes to your hours to suit your needs, including childcare commitments and other needs as a parent. This can include reducing your hours, changing the times you start and finish work, job sharing and working from home.

You can read more about this on the Working Families website.

Can I apply for flexible working?

To ask for flexible working, you must have worked for your employer for at least 26 weeks in a row. Some organisations allow applications earlier than this – so check with your employer.

Some single parents worry about discussing their parenting needs with their employer, but remember that you have the right to make this request. As long as you meet the above criteria,  your employer has to take your request under consideration and cannot legally discriminate against you for having parenting needs.

How do I apply?

To make a request for flexible working, you must contact your employer in writing. This request must contain the following information:

  • The date of your request
  • The change you like to make to your working pattern.
  • When you would like the change to come into effect.
  • Discuss what effects the change would have on the organisation you work for.
  • Explain how such effects might be dealt with.
  • State that it is a statutory request.
  • State if the employee has made a request previously and if so when.

It can take up to 3 months to get a decision from your employer, so make sure to apply in plenty of time.

Visit the Working Families website for lots of great guidance about how to request flexible working.

If you’re changing your hours, you can find out how your money might be affected with our online tool, changing your hours, job, or pay.

Single dad Gary asked his employer for flexible hours so that he could pick his children up from school and spend more time with them in the evening.

Just because you are a lone parent, you are not isolated, you are not alone and you are not the only person in that situation. You could … find that your manager is in the same situation as you. Ask. Just go for it. I've got all this now because I asked for flexible working.

Working Families

Working Families have an in-depth guide to requesting flexible working, including tips on negotiation and how to choose the right working pattern for you.

Read the guide

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