Informal applications for flexible working

The formal flexible working scheme reflects employees’ statutory entitlement under the provisions of the Flexible Working (Amendment) Regulations 2023 to request a permanent contractual change to their hours of work. However, employees may discuss their need for flexible working with their line managers at any point and agreements about either permanent or temporary changes to hours of work may be reached informally without the need for a formal process. Depending on the nature of the informal agreement, this may still require a contract amendment, for example, if an employee changes their working hours from full-time to part-time.

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Many staff will face complex personal circumstances during their working life such as a period of acute caring for a sick family member, dealing with end of life care, adjusting to a new caring responsibility, or care arrangements breaking down.  In such circumstances staff may find that their normal working pattern becomes difficult to sustain in the immediate term but may not wish to make a permanent change to their working pattern, so that they can return to their normal hours after the immediate need has passed. Where it is operationally possible to do so, a temporary period of flexible working could be considered. For example, a period of shorter hours or staggered hours working, or working from home, may allow staff to continue to be professionally effective and engaged, whilst dealing effectively with their domestic responsibilities.

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Requests to work from overseas, even on a temporary basis, must not be dealt with informally due to complex legal and tax implications.

For more information see guidance on overseas working and contact a HR Business Partner.

Where a temporary flexible working arrangement is agreed, indefinite flexibility in working arrangements is unlikely to be operationally possible. Requests for temporary flexibility must therefore be for a fixed duration. A maximum period of one year is advised.

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For those dealing with their own health-related or disability-related issues a period of part-time working may be recommended by a health professional, or might be identified by the individual as beneficial in managing their symptoms.  For sickness related issues see also the managing sickness guidance.

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In considering informal requests for temporary, or permanent flexible working arrangements line managers should consider the following:

  • the impact of the requested change on the operational functioning of the department
  • how the workload can be managed without an undue impact on other employees (for example, where a member of staff is temporarily reducing their hours, can the salary savings be used to engage a temporary agency work, or offer a short-term contract)
  • for temporary requests, how long (maximum one year) can the department offer flexibility

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If the application for flexible working involves a reduction in hours and the employee has a certificate of sponsorship, they should seek advice from the Staff Immigration Team before proceeding because a reduction in hours and salary would be reportable to the Home Office and there may be issues if the salary dropped below the required level stipulated in their visa conditions.

Requests to work from overseas cannot be dealt with informally.  Aside from legal and tax implications there may be visa implications: for more information see the guidance on overseas working.

For more information about visa holders contact the Staff Immigration Team

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If, after discussion, the requested change can be accommodated, there is no requirement for a formal application to be made. A  pro-forma 'record of change form' is provided (see the right hand menu on this page) to help departments to keep a record of what has been agreed.

The following steps should be followed to record and action the change: 

  • Complete a 'record of change' form and retain a copy on the individual's personnel file
  • If a permanent change has been agreed to hours or place of work a contract amendment letter should be issued.
  • Follow the HRIS guidance on implementing a payroll change. 
  • For temporary changes
    • Use the reason code - TFW (Temporary Flexible Work)
    • Use the appropriate action code - eg DH (Decrease in Hours) 

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PeopleXD guidance

For guidance on managing the PeopleXD systems changes please visit: