It is a little known fact that after 26 weeks of working you are entitled to request flexible working hours. Here at One Community one thing we are looking at presently, is how we can ensure carers are not excluded from working due to the responsibilities of the caring role.
Flexible working could be the answer for many carers who are concerned they may need to reduce their hours resulting in economic hardship, or give up their job all together which as well as the reduction in disposable income could lead to increased social isolation.
We understand here at One Community that it is a difficult balance to strike as a carer – helping a loved one maintain their independence whilst also maintaining your own. Work can provide positive stimulation, a break from the caring role, and also allows a person to follow their own ambitions.
It is an incredibly important facet of life to maintain for when the caring cycle ends. Carers often say they feel a bit lost when their caring role ceases, and a job can help ensure that person still has a sense of belonging and purpose at that time.
So what is flexible working?
Flexible working is a way of working that suits the needs of the employee. Types of flexible working may include job sharing, working from home, part time hours, alternative hours outside of the normal working day, compressed hours (same hours over less days), flexitime (employee chooses start and finish time within a limit, 8 hours between 7am-11pm for example), and annualised hours (a certain number of hours a year).
How do you apply for it?
If you have worked at one place for over the 26 weeks you can apply simply by writing to your employer. Your letter should include, the date, a statement which says this is a statutory request (which means you are entitled to make this request by law), details of what type of flexibility you require, for how long, and when you wish it to start, your assessment of how this will affect the organisation you work for, and acknowledgement of any previous applications. Your employer is required by law to consider your request within a maximum of three months. If agreed, your employer is required to change your contract. If refused, it must be a business case as to why. You can apply for flexible working once a year.
Things to note
Obviously not all jobs are suitable for flexible hours, but there are many that are and so you may want to consider finding work where it is possible. Employers don’t have to grant you flexible hours, but they need to explain to you why not if they don’t. If you feel as though your request hasn’t been handled appropriately you can take it to an employment tribunal. The employer should offer an appeals process, and should hold a meeting with you to discuss the application. They may not agree if it incurs extra costs to the business, that it adversely affects other staff, if it will affect the quality of your work, if customer demand is not able to be met, or if the business is planning changes to the workforce.
If it is agreed, you should receive a statement of the agreed changes, a date for when the flexible working will start, and a new contract encompassing these changes in the terms and conditions. All this should happen within 28 days of the application being agreed.