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How to Make a Successful Flexible Working Request That Will Actually be Approved

Nowadays, flexible working requests are flying in at a rate never seen before, and it’s no wonder why. Companies that fail to offer flexible working options to their employees will be the ones who likely miss out on top talent, have a higher turnover, and are probably not considered as the best places to work. For employees wondering how to make a successful flexible working request, everything you need to know to get your request approved is here. But first, let’s review what exactly is flexible working and the reasons employees are likely applying for it.

What is Flexible Working?

Flexible work comes in many shapes and forms and it varies with the type of remote and hybrid work environment in our organization. In its simplest form though, flexible working is a special work arrangement in which employees have some level of freedom and autonomy over their schedule, working hours, and/or location.

Reasons for Applying for Flexible Working Hours

It’s your legal right! In 2002, legal mandates and employment law flexible working guidelines were introduced to cover caregivers. This has since expanded to other situations with the passing of another law in the flexible working act in 2014. More recently, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, employment rights act flexible working laws and guidelines have been set across the world. Each country and region have created their own laws around flexible working and the legal requirements around how to make a successful flexible working request.

For example, if you’ve just joined a company, you likely won’t be approved if you submit a flex-time request letter or a request to change working hours letter. In many countries, requests can only be made by employees who have been working with a company for 26 weeks or more.

Besides the fact it’s your right to request modifications to your hours or schedule, it’s also for your own personal benefit! There doesn’t need to be more reasons for applying for flexible working hours than that? When asked ‘why’ an employee is submitting a flexible working request, two of the main flexible working request reasons are:

  • Improved work-life balance
  • To improve productivity & motivation

Now that you know some of the most common reasons why employees submit a flexible working request, let’s dig into how to actually make the request.

How to Make a Successful Flexible Working Request

Making a successful flexi time request letter starts with answering the question - How do you propose a flexible work schedule that will get approved? Here are the steps to take.👇

Decide between a statutory request and non-statutory request

A non statutory flexible working request is an informal request, which doesn’t follow any particular rules set out by a flexible working law. In contrast, a statutory request is governed by laws on flexible working.

The main benefits to a non statutory request are:

  • There are no eligibility criteria.
  • No request limit.
  • If your request is refused, it can be taken to an employment tribunal (ie. in the case of discrimination).
  • The time to receive a decision is usually quicker.

When should you submit your request? Skip to #4 under - How to make a successful flexible working request that will get approved to find out.

Next steps

Once you’ve made your request, you can expect to wait, on average, 3 months before your request is processed. In the case of a non statutory request for flexible working, the process for approval is usually much quicker.

If your request is approved, get it in writing! If your request is denied, you guessed it... get it in writing! Plus ensure they have provided specific reasons for the refusal of your request. This information will be necessary if you choose to appeal.

How to Ask to Go Part Time

We’ve already gone over how to make a successful flexible working request, but what about how to ask to go part time? Although a request for part time hours is technically a type of flexible working request, asking to go part time at work follows a slightly different process.

In the case of going part time, your hours are changing quite substantially. With these situations, the first thing you should do before submitting a formal request is arranged to speak with your direct manager to find out whether a switch to part time is a possibility. Prior to the meeting, take the time to set up a flexible working meeting agenda that you can provide to your manager so they know what points you’d like to cover.

If you’re not sure how to start the conversation, put together a flexible working meeting script and rehearse what you want to say before. In the meeting, you’ll want to clearly communicate why you’re requesting change of hours at work and your plan for how to manage flexible working with your new schedule if approved.

How to Ask for Flexible Working Hours

You now know how to ask to go part time, but what about how to put together a change of hours request letter? This type of request is a letter asking for flexible working hours and, if you want to increase your likelihood that it’ll get approved, it’s best to work off an example letter asking for flexible hours rather than create your own.

👉 Flexible hours request letter example here

How to Get a Flexible Working Request Approved

Here are the steps to follow to get your flexible working request approved.

1) Review the companies existing flexible working policy

The first way to ensure a request won’t automatically be denied is by checking with the companies existing flexible working policy to see whether your request is within the possibilities of what can be offered.

2) Understand your organization’s approach to flexible working

Before submitting a flexible working form for a request for flexible working arrangements, make sure you understand your company’s thoughts around flexi work. And, if they have a flexible work arrangements policy, read it!

3) Come up with a compelling case

If you’re asking, do you have to give a reason for flexible working, the answer is yes! You’ll need a good reason, and you’ll need to be able to form a compelling case around it. The most effective request is one that convinces your employer that this new arrangement will benefit both of you. And, make sure you can explain how the arrangement will work successfully. Know the reasons behind our request and our motivation for making the request.

4) Use a flexible working request template

Working from a flexible working hours letter example to craft your request will ensure nothing is left out of your request.

5) Decide on the best time to bring up the conversation & when to submit a request.

Before doing this though, make sure you know what the company’s stance on flexible working is, especially if you’re just joining the team. The optimal time to bring up these types of requests will depend on your specific situation. Here are some examples of when to start the conversation about flexible working.

  • During a performance review.
  • Before returning from leave (ie. flexible working request after maternity).
  • After you have worked with your current employer for more than 26 consecutive weeks (if submitting a statutory request).

6) Prepare to discuss and comprise to reach an agreement.

To do this, it’s best to set up a meeting to discuss your request instead of just sending in an e-application. Preparing to discuss your request with your employer, will allow you to more clearly communicate your ideal flexible work arrangement.

What to do if your request gets denied

Just because you submit a flexible working request doesn’t mean that it will be approved. If this happens to be the case there’s no need to panic.

Follow these steps to find the best solution to get your request approved:

  • Find out the reason why your request was denied. Some reasons that an employer could provide for denying your request are: there will be a struggle to meet customer demands, the employee’s performance will suffer, lack of work during proposed working days/hours.
  • Speak to our employer directly to see whether you can come to a compromise. Before the meeting, prepare exactly what type of flexibility you want/need and how you’re going to make it work (lead with this)! Not everything is black and white, and with a compelling case, anything is possible. Without a compelling case, or a willingness to compromise, an attempt at how to make a successful flexible working request may fail.
“Whilst flexible working is far more the norm, there are unfortunately still employers who refuse requests. Of course, it’s worth highlighting that it’s simply not possible for everyone to do it.”

- Emma Stewart, CEO, and co-founder of Timewise flexible working consultancy (Source: Barclays Life Skills).

Tips for Creating a Flexible Working Request

The easiest way to create a request is by using a flexible working request letter template.

There are a few basic things that all flexible working requests should contain. It may seem obvious, but without these details, your request may not be given a second look. Knowing how to make a successful flexible working request all starts with including the following in your request.

  • Date of your request.
  • Requested working pattern changes.
  • Desired date of implementation.
  • Details of how your new schedule may affect your work, that of the business, and solutions to work through them.
  • Why you are making the request.

In addition, if you are submitting a statutory request, you will also need to include:

  • Clear mention that your request is a statutory flexible working request.
  • Dates of any previous flexible work requests. Some companies/governing bodies have restrictions in place that a request can only be made once in a calendar year.

Use a Flexible Working Hours Letter Example Template

Your company may already have a specific flexible working application example template you need to follow when submitting a request, but if not, you can use this flexible working request letter template as a guide. If you’re an employee making a flexi work request, remember, that the best way to ensure an approved request is by following the steps mentioned here on how to make a successful flexible working request that will actually be approved. And, if you’re an employer, be sure to provide your employees with the right guidelines to follow so they know exactly what they need to do when submitting their request.