The days of working 9-5, Monday to Friday might be well and truly behind us. Next year is tipped to be the year when flexible working arrangements become the norm, with over 50% of employers offering them.

And by 2020, 70% of organisations will promote mobile working. This is a nice thing to think about for the future, but what does it mean for today?

In the UK, every worker who has been with an employer for 26 weeks is entitled to request flexible working. This can mean anything from going part time, working irregular hours, working during term time or even just working from home on certain days of the week. The key to this working practice is the world flexible.

The idea is that the popular 9-5 office job is dying out, and instead we’re all moving towards a better work/life balance. Most office jobs don’t require workers to be present in the office, and instead this is simply a way of keeping track of employees and their productivity. However, research has already shown that working from home boosts productivity.

Not only this, but encouraging employees to enjoy a healthier work life balance can benefit businesses in many different ways. The days of staying with the same company for the duration of your career are over, so staff retention is a struggle for employers.

By supporting employees through different stages in their life, they are more likely to stay with the same company, and this means the company benefits from their experience and in-depth company knowledge. It’s a win-win for everyone.

How can I arrange flexible working?

Even if your company doesn’t advertise it, if you’ve been with the company for more than 26 weeks you have the legal right to request flexible working. You will have to have a serious think about how changing your current working setup with impact the business and be prepared to offer some solutions.

Put your request in writing and make sure you state it is a statutory request for flexible working. Outline how you plan to manage the change, and any proposals you have for minimising the impact on business. Some companies may be open to an informal arrangement, but it’s still important to get everything in writing.

What do I do next?

Once you have submitted your request, your employer has up to three months to deal with your request according to employment law. They may request more time to consider their decision, but you would have to agree to it.

There are only eight reasons an employer can turn down your request, and you are able to appeal if you feel you have been discriminated against. If your request is turned down for reasonable reasons, then you will have to wait 12 months before submitting another request.

It’s important to leave plenty of time between putting in your request and the time you will need the changes to come into effect. Realising a week before your kid starts school that you will need to leave work early to pick them up isn’t a realistic timescale to allow your employer to make and implement the changes to your working day.

By giving as much notice as possible, your employer will be much more likely to respond positively to your request.

Written By
Rebecca Harper is a freelance writer living in London. She is interested in law, politics and business. You can follow her on Twitter.

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