Can I apply to my employer to work flexible hours?

If you have an interest in working as a freelance writer but you hold a full time job and  have a family to consider, you may wish to think about asking your employer if you can work flexible hours (sometimes referred to as flexitime or flexi working). The benefit of this is that you will be able to complete more of our projects (which might pay more than your present job) but you will still have the added security, as you will have a regular payment coming in from your employment.

In relation to flexible working hours, the specific bit of legislation is the Employment Rights Act 1996, as altered by the Employment Act 2002. The simple response is, there is a human right to ask an employer for flexible hours, but not actually a right to flexible hours. A business can always come up with some reasons that they can give for not granting the demand.

The right to ask for flexible hours

Every parent who is working as an employee is given the right to ask to work  flexible working hours – if they:

  • Possess a child who is under six years old.
  • And they have responsibility for it.

Other groups of people who possess the right to ask for flexible hours are for example, carers.

But, this does not necessarily mean that the employer has to allow them to work  flexible working hours. They just have an obligation as an employer to give reasonable consideration to the request, but not necessarily accept it.

How to put in an application?

You have to put in an application to your employer two weeks prior to the specific child’s 6th birthday. It has to be:

  • Put in writing.
  • Correctly dated.
  • Include a statement that the application is being made under the statutory right to ask for a flexible working arrangement.
  • Give specific details of the required flexible working arrangement that you wish to apply for not forgetting to include the starting date.
  • Say if you have lodged any previous application and, if so, what date.
  • Provide an explanation as to the effect you think the new working arrangement might have on the company you presently work for, and make suggestions as to how any effect might be solved.
  • Provide confirmation that you have the responsibility for the bringing up of the child and that you are either the mother, father, adopter, guardian or foster parent or you are married to or the partner of one of them.

An email is now as acceptable as any request made ‘in writing’.

Your employer has to then meet up with you to have a discussion with you regarding the application before 28 days of receipt of the request or if the person who has been approved to deal with it is on holiday, e.g. the Human Resources manager, 28 days after they return. You are permitted to bring along a work colleague to the meeting with you.

At the actual meeting your employer may make some suggestions that are alternatives to the working arrangement that you have requested, or maybe a trial time period. You are not required to agree with them but you must  keep in your mind that your employer also does not have to submit to your requests so it may be better  to work out a compromise.

Your employer has the responsibility to think over your request in a proper manner, with the assurance that no discrimination takes place. This means making sure for example that your request hasn’t been rejected because it was given to another person with no specific reason offered.

If your request has been refused, there has to be a suitable business reason why your employer has rejected it and they have to inform you of their decision less than fourteen days after the meeting. The time limit can be lengthened if both parties agree.

Reasons your request may not be granted

If your employer has rejected your request, an explanation has to be given. A particular reason from the 8 laid out in the law below, together with an explanation of why that particular reason has been given.

These reasons are:

  • The weight of extra costs.
  • Bad effect on the company’s ability to match customers’ demand.
  • Not able to re-schedule work among the remaining staff.
  • Not able to find extra staff.
  • Bad effect on quality.
  • Negative effect on performance.
  • Not enough work in the time periods the employee wishes to work.
  • New structural alterations.

and any other reasons the Secretary of State may outline by regulations (there is nothing else that we were conscious of).


If your request is turned down, you have the right to appeal. You have to give your employer sufficient notice of the appeal and then, your employer has to conduct a meeting to talk over the appeal less than 14 days from when you gave him notice. They have to let you know the result less than 14 days since the meeting.

If the appeal is turned down, you can:

  • Write a complaint under the grievance process laid out in your employment contract, if you do have one, or
  • Summons your employer to attend an Employment Tribunal or.
  • If you and your employer can come to an agreement, take the issue to arbitration.

This next option comes available to you if your employer fails to follow the process correctly (for example, by failing to hold meetings with you or by turning down your application on the grounds of wrong facts).

Your employer is not allowed to sack you for the reason that you lodged an application to work with flexible hours!

To apply right now as a freelance writer, just fill out our online application form.