What to consider before making your decision
- The impact on the business/service provision/team/wider team if the request is approved.
- The impact the decision may have on the employee if you turn request is refused.
- The individual's circumstances and their needs (is the request due to ill health?).
- The case on its own merit. It is not acceptable to turn down a request based on the outcome of a similar request made by another employee(s). It is also not necessary to accept a request simply because another individual is already working a similar flexible working arrangement.
- If you are in any doubt about the decision you should make, offer the employee a trial period. This will enable both parties to determine whether the flexible working arrangement may be accommodated.
Requests which don't require senior manager approval
For most situations (see below) you can agree to a flexible working request without senior manager approval. This doesn't include contractual changes, such as the number of hours worked (ie. reduction/increase in hours) which need to be decided by the reporting manager or Head of Department, in discussion with, and with the agreement of more senior managers, taking into account any financial implications.
- Day-to-day informal flexibility can be agreed on an ad hoc basis between yourself and the individual with no need for a formal flexible working request (eg. attendance at a child’s sports day or the need to be at home to receive goods or services, or manage personal appointments).
- Short-term flexibility can be arranged between yourself and the individual. Your arrangement should be noted briefly in writing/email with a clear statement that this is short term the reasons and with a timescale. (eg. the need to provide time-limited/temporary care for a relative to attend regular hospital appointments).
- Changes to working patterns can be agreed by you following a formal request. (eg. a change from working a Monday and a Tuesday to a Wednesday and a Thursday).
See the Manager/Head of Department approval process chart (.pdf) for more information.
You must decide as soon as practicable but within six weeks of the request being made. Managers may use a trial period to assess how an arrangement may work, usually a period of three months.
After a request has been agreed
A formal flexible working request is permanent, unless the request is for a temporary arrangement or there is need for a trial period.
Once agreed a formal flexible working request is permanent it will remain in place until either another request is made by the employee or organisationally there is a requirement to review the needs of the workload and consult regarding change. If such a change is needed, this will be discussed first with the individual concerned.
You may use a trial period to assess how an arrangement may work, usually this will be for a period of three months and agreed by you and the individual in writing.
Colleagues asking for the same arrangements
It is important to remember that just because you’ve permitted one arrangement for one individual, it won’t automatically entitle others to the same arrangements.
Requests should be considered in the order in which they are received. If the first request is approved this will naturally change the context in terms of the second request. There is no requirement on you to make a decision based on the most deserving request, simply consider each request on its own merits in order.
You must make your decision based on the business needs and resources available at the time of their request. Circumstances may have changed since the other employee had their request granted which may unfortunately mean that it is not possible to grant the most recent request.
All decisions should be focused on organisational needs and job demands. It is important to communicate to everyone the decision and its rationale. Documenting the basis for these decisions is always a good idea in case questions arise later.
In an environment where a number of staff are already working flexibly, it may be helpful to consider calling for volunteers from staff with existing arrangements, who may wish to change these working arrangements, thereby creating the capacity to grant a new flexible working request.
People and Culture will be able to support you to consider requests where they may be of a complex nature.
If you've refused a flexible working request, the employee has a right to appeal. You're not allowed to tell them not to appeal. If the employee wishes to appeal, they must do so within 14 working days.
Find out more about the appeals procedure.