Approach your line manager

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Approach your line manager

Always start with an informal request – but you'll still need to prepare.

Think through your objectives just as you would for a business case, so you can demonstrate how the business' needs can be balanced with your own.

Below are some tips. But if these don't succeed, don't give up! You may have statutory entitlements to request flexible working options. However this would require a formal request, which we come onto below.

The informal approach

Informally approach your line manager. Prepare.

  • Be realistic about how adaptable you and your present job are to flexible working patterns
  • Anticipate objections and plan the solutions
  • Ask for a meeting to discuss your proposal in person. 

Discuss how it will impact on your work, your manager, the team and customers.

  • Emphasise the business benefits:
    • the retention of experienced staff, avoiding recruitment costs
    • increased motivation, loyalty and productivity – being granted flexibility has a powerful value as an incentive
    • reduce absenteeism and the need for time off for domestic responsibilities
    • cost-effectiveness, eg home-based workers save accomodation costs
    • help meet equality targets
    • benefits to the employer's reputation.
  • Highlight your expectations of the benefits for your work, your manager, the team and its clients.
  • If possible, give examples of how this has worked elsewhere.
  • Be flexible and willing to consider alternatives.
  • Consider proposing a trial period – this can be effective in working through perceived problems. 

Formalise any agreed arrangements.

  • Record the details of any agreements you reach. A change in your contract of employment may be required in some cases, such as reduced working hours. Take advice from your rep and make sure you understand in full the implications of the change, for instance to your leave and pension entitlements.
  • Keep the arrangements under review and be prepared to be adaptable to changing personal or business needs.

The formal approach

We always advise members to try to resolve matters informally with their line manager before resorting to making a formal request under the legislation.

If that fails and you need to make a formal request for flexible working under the legislation, further advice is available in Prospect Members' Guide 16 on part-time and flexible working. Remember this is a right to request not an absolute right to flexible working. The right to request applies to parents or carers of children aged 16 or under or disabled children up to the age of 18.

The law requires your employer to consider seriously your application and follow certain procedures (eg invite you to a meeting to discuss your application, give you written reasons if it's refused and allow you to appeal that decision). Your employer can refuse your request or offer an alternative working pattern only if there are good business reasons for doing so.

When making an application, it will help your case to know:

  • what types of flexible working suit your needs
  • what the impact is likely to be on your employer's business
  • what you can do to reduce this.