by Emma Cleary
Five steps to making a flexible working request – when you’re already in a role.
If you’re in a current job but you’d like more flexibility, what should you do? Well, there’s a set procedure as outlined by ACAS that both you and your employer must adhere to when making a flexible working request. The same goes for asking for Shared Parental Leave.
We look at how you can have those tricky conversations with employers about flexibility and work-life balance.
Emma Cleary, Partner at Ten2Two Sussex says, “When you’re in a role, it can be difficult to find the right moment to discuss any changes with your employer. If your company is large, it’s likely to have a Human Resources department handling any changes to an individual’s contract. If it’s smaller, your conversation could be setting a precedent and your employer may be entering new territory for the first time.”
Choose your moment
If you work for a small company, asking for flexibility or Shared Parental Leave may feel uncomfortable but you’re within the law and it’s your right to ask, as long as you fulfil the conditions of service.
Know your rights
Look at what your company’s policy says about how requests should be made. You can find further advice from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.
To have the statutory right to ask for flexible working arrangements, you must: be an employee and have worked for your employer continuously for 26 weeks at the date on which you make your application. For Shared Parental Leave, this needs to be at least 26 weeks up to the end of the qualifying week (the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth). You must still be employed by the same employer in the week before any Shared Parental Leave is due to start.
Be clear about what you want
There are lots of ways flexible working hours can be packaged. Think about how you want to work the time. With flexible hours, these can be anything from staggered hours to nine day fortnights. If you’re not sure, the Ten2Two website outlines these, so have a think about what it is you really want.
If you’re making a Shared Parental Leave request, who will take what time off, and when will you do it? Are you asking to have time off during a particularly busy period? An employee is entitled to submit three separate notices to book leave. For example, you could choose to come back to work to help cover a particularly busy time for the company before going on leave again afterwards.
Set it out in writing
Flexible working and Shared Parental Leave requests must be made in writing. Follow the guidelines, date it and format it. Set out what you want and when you want it to come into effect.
If seeking flexible working, add how you think this will affect the existing business and how, in your opinion, this might be dealt with. You can only make a request for flexible working once every 12 months, so it’s important to get it right. Remember to provide solutions and benefits rather than present your employer with problems.
Expect a meeting to discuss it
An employer will likely want to talk through your request, although not always. A flexible working process needs to be completed within three months of the request being initially made. You can bring a work colleague to the meeting if you wish. A Shared Parental Leave request needs to be made at least eight weeks before the leave is due to be taken.
What happens if they say no?
Your flexible working request will likely be met by one of three outcomes – either it will be accepted or your employer will suggest a compromise. In the case of rejection, your employer needs to set out clear reasons for doing so. You can appeal this and you should be offered a meeting if you feel the application wasn’t handled responsibly.
When it comes to Shared Parental Leave, leave must be taken in complete weeks and may be taken either in a continuous period, which an employer cannot refuse, or in a discontinuous period, which the employer can refuse.
Emma Clearly, Director at Ten2Two says, “It’s traditionally viewed as simpler to ask for flexible working once you’re already in a role – but that is beginning to change. Many employers are realising that flexible working is becoming accepted as a standard work practice, and a key retention tool. It’s also an important employee benefit for businesses seeking to attract new talent as the skills gap squeeze begins to bite.”
If you’d like to find a flexible career role, talk to Emma Cleary at Ten2Two Sussex today.
Contact Emma at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 07810 541599.
Ten2Two is a flexible and part-time recruitment agency providing professional staff for forward-thinking companies across Sussex and
the south of England.
Register at Ten2Two.org