3 myths about flexible working

Friday, December 8, 2017

Earlier this year, a video that showed Professor Robert Kelly’s interview with the BBC being interrupted by his children bursting into his home office highlighted one of the funny sides of flexible working arrangements.

But there are some myths about flexible working arrangements that mean some charities are reticent about their use and employees are scared to broach the subject.

Myth 1: It is only available to parents and carers.

Since June 2014, flexible working is available to anyone who that meets the eligibility requirements:

The person must:

  • be an employee
  • have a minimum of 26 weeks of continuous service with their employer
  • have not made an application for flexible working during the last 12 months. 

Myth 2: I cannot refuse a request for flexible working for a new mother.

Employees have a statutory right to request flexible working, but there is no right to flexible working. This means that new mothers have the right to ask, but they do not have an automatic right to demand flexible working when they return to work.

Employers must, however, consider the request in a reasonable manner and can only refuse a request for one or more of the following business reasons:

  • the burden of additional costs
  • an inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff
  • an inability to recruit additional staff
  • detrimental impact on quality
  • damaging impact on performance
  • negative effect on ability to meet customer demand
  • insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work
  • a planned structural change to your charity.


If you agree to the change, you should confirm the start date of the change and you will need to amend the employee’s contract to cover this change.


Myth 3: Flexible working is basically working from home or working part-time. 

In fact, it is broader than that.

Eligible employees can request to:

  • change the hours they work (e.g. they want to work fewer hours)
  • the times they are required to work (e.g. they wish to start at 10am rather than 9am)
  • where they work (e.g. an employee wants to work from another site on Fridays).

Flexible working could mean job sharing, compressed hours, flexitime, staggered hours or annualised hours.

For more information about the different types of flexible working arrangements available for your charity, give us a free initial advice call. Members, please contact 0845 226 8393, ask for the Partnerships Legal Team and quote your ACEVO membership number.