Making a flexible working request


Flexible working will enable you to change the normal hours you work in school.

It might be impracticable for you to work standard hours because of personal circumstances at home, caring for children or other factors. This article outlines what flexible working is, how you can request it and what happens if your application is refused.

What is flexible working?

There are different ways of working flexibly. Flexible working means that you could start school slightly later or finish the day earlier depending on your circumstances. It can include job sharing, where two employees share the same job, or working ‘compressed hours’ where you work full time hours but over fewer days, or simply to alter your contracted hours. Employers must consider flexible working requests in a ‘reasonable manner’.

ACAS has produced a guide for employers when considering requests for flexible working.

Under which circumstances can I request flexible working?

All employees have the legal right to request flexible working, not just parents and carers.

Making a Flexible working request is a day one employment right.

GOV.UK outlines the steps of requesting it at your workplace. We outline these below:

  • Write to your headteacher requesting flexible working and your circumstances;
  • Your school will consider the request and make a decision within two months, in some cases it may take longer;
  • If your school agrees to the request, they must change the terms and conditions in your employment contract;
  • If your school disagrees, they must write to you giving the reasons for the refusal. You may be able to complain to an employment tribunal if you feel this is unfair. Edapt has produced another article which provide an overview on employment tribunals.

You can make two applications in a 12 month period.

How do I make a request?

You should write an email or letter to your headteacher requesting it and your school might ask you to use a standardised form to make an application. The standardised form on the the GOV.UK website can be found here.

The application must include:

  • The date;
  • A statement outlining this is a statutory request;
  • Details of how you want to work flexibly and when you want this to start;
  • A statement saying if and when you have made a previous application.

What happens after making a request?

Your school should make a decision within two months of the request, in some cases it may be longer. If your school accepts the request, you should receive in writing:

  • A statement of the agreed changes;
  • A start date for flexible working.

Your employment contract will also change to include your new terms and conditions. This should be done as soon as possible but no later than 28 days after the request was approved.

You should also be notified if your school rejects the application. Schools can reject an application for any of the following reasons:

  • Extra costs that will damage the school finances;
  • The work cannot be reorganised among other staff;
  • People cannot be recruited to do the work;
  • Flexible working will affect quality and performance;
  • There is a lack of work to do during the proposed working times;
  • Your school is planning changes to the workforce.

Can I appeal if my request for flexible working is rejected?

You must follow your school’s procedures for lodging an appeal. This will be outlined by your school if you have a flexible working policy or a policy on how to raise a grievance.

If your appeal is unsuccessful, and you think you have grounds to take further action, you can complain to an employment tribunal.

This can be done when your school:

  • Did not handle your request in a reasonable manner;
  • Wrongly treated your application as withdrawn;
  • Dismissed or treated you poorly because of your flexible working request, for example, refused a promotion or pay rise;
  • Rejected an application based on incorrect facts.

You should complain to the tribunal within three months of:

  • Hearing your school’s decision;
  • Hearing your request was treated as withdrawn;
  • The date your school should have responded to your request but failed to do so.

You cannot complain to an employment tribunal just because your request was rejected.

We will be able to provide advice and support on navigating the flexible working process.

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The information contained within this article is not a complete or final statement of the law.
While Edapt has sought to ensure that the information is accurate and up-to-date, it is not responsible and will not be held liable for any inaccuracies and their consequences, including any loss arising from relying on this information. This article may contain information sourced from public sector bodies and licensed under the Open Government Licence. If you are an Edapt subscriber with an employment-related issue, please contact us and we will be able to refer you to one of our caseworkers.