How to ask for flexible working

Anyone can ask their employer for flexible working, but as a working mum you have a legal right to request it. This is called making a statutory application.

Find out how to make a statutory application for flexible work.

A step by step guide to asking for flexible work

If you ask your employer for flexible work, your application will follow these steps:

  1. You write to your employer.
  2. Your employer will ask for a meeting within 28 days to discuss your application.
  3. Your employer must make a decision within 14 days of your meeting, and tell you.
  4. If your employer agrees to your request they must give you a new contract.
  5. If they don’t agree, you have the right to appeal.

How to ask for flexible work

When asking your employer for flexible work you must put your application in writing. You can write your own letter or email or your employer may ask you to use a standard company form.

Your application must:

  • Include the date.
  • Say that you have a responsibility as a parent (or carer).
  • State that you are applying under your statutory right to request flexible working.
  • Outline what kind of working pattern you wish to apply for, and when you want it to start.
  • Explain what effect you think the new arrangement would have on your employer, and how it can be managed.
  • Say whether you have ever made a previous application for flexible working.

Your application doesn’t need to contain proof that you are a parent or carer.

Meeting your employer to discuss your application

Your employer must hold a meeting with you to discuss your request within 28 days of receiving your application. (If your manager isn’t at work, the 28 days start from when they return.)

If you can’t make the meeting you must give a reasonable explanation, otherwise your employer can treat your application as withdrawn.

You have the right to ask for a colleague or trade union representative to attend the meeting with you, if you wish. They are allowed to discuss your application with your employer but can’t answer questions for you. If they are unable to make the meeting you can ask for it to be rearranged within seven days.

Withdrawing your application

If for any reason you want or need to withdraw your application you need to let your employer know in writing. If you do so, you cannot make another application for 12 months.

What happens next?

Your employer must let you know of their decision in writing within 14 days of your meeting – or longer if you both agree.

If your employer agrees to your request they will need to give you a new contract. If they refuse your application they must:

  • Give the business reasons for turning your application down.
  • Explain how flexible working will affect their business.
  • Tell you how you can appeal their decision.