Informal applications for flexible working

The formal flexible working scheme reflects employees’ statutory entitlement under the provisions of the Flexible Working Regulations 2014 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.

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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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For those dealing with their own sickness issues the guidance on managing sickness applies, and a period of part-time working may be recommended by a health professional.  Disabled staff may also wish to request a temporary period of flexible working, which should be considered as a possible reasonable adjustment.

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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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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 since a reduction in hours and salary would be reportable and there may be issues if the salary dropped below the level required by the Home Office.

For more information 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: 

  • Issue a  ‘contract amendment – change of hours’ letter
  • Follow the HRIS guidance on implementing a payroll change. 
  • For temporary changes
    • Use the reason code - TFW (Temporary Flexible Work)
    • Use the action code DH (Decrease in Hours)
  • Complete a ‘record of change’ form and retain a copy on the individual’s personnel file

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PeopleXD guidance

For guidance on managing the PeopleXD systems changes please visit: