From 6th April 2007, under the Work and Families Act 2006, the right to request flexible working has been extended to Carers of adults as well as parents of young or disabled children. Flexible working patterns can allow employees to manage both work and their caring responsibilities, and include:
- Compressed working hours – this is where you work your normal weekly hours but in a shorter period of time, so for example work 37 hrs in 4 days instead of 5 days.
- Term-time or annualised working hours – this option means the amount of hours you are contracted for per month or year are worked in a flexible way. So it doesn’t matter how you complete your hours so long as you fit them in within the agreed time period.
- Job–sharing or part-time work – often employers will negotiate this as an option whether it is on a short-term or longer-term basis.
- Flexible holidays to fit in with your alternative care arrangements.
- Time of in lieu – This is commonly used by employers. Using this method it means you can take time off for an emergency appointment, or unexpected reason and then make the hours up at a later agreed period.
You can request flexible working if:
- you are an employee and have been working for your employer for at least 26 weeks
- you haven’t made a previous request for flexible working in the last 12 months
- you are a parent of child aged under six, or a disabled child under 18 or you are a Carer.
Under the Act the definition of Carer is that you must be or expect to be caring for a spouse, partner (who you live with), civil partner or relative, or live at the same address as the adult in need of care. Caring can include personal care, emotional support, keeping the person you care for company, helping with financial matters or paperwork and escorting the person you care for to medical appointments. You will not be asked to provide any proof of the caring relationship when you make your application, but it may help you to give as much information as you can.
To make a request for flexible working you will have to make a written application, and there is a set procedure that you and your employer must follow which includes time limits for your employer to respond to your request.
If your application is granted, the change to your working hours/location will usually be a permanent change to your terms and conditions (unless you have agreed otherwise).
Your employer can refuse your request if they have good business reasons for doing so. If your request is refused, you can appeal to your employer. If your appeal is refused, you may be able to take further action if the process was not followed correctly, proper consideration was not given to the facts of your case or you have been discriminated against in some way. If you think this is the case, seek legal advice.
Even if you do not meet the conditions above,you may still be able to request flexible working because many employers have their own flexible working policies- check with your human resources/personnel department.
Download a copy of Carers Bucks’ flexible working fact-sheet
Further information on flexible working:
Acas factsheet on flexible working