Frequently Asked Questions
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We recognise that FW supports employee work-life balance, raises morale, reduces absenteeism and improves our use and retention of staff.
Often FW allows a school to employ highly experienced, excellent staff whom it may otherwise loose if not offering FW. All this is possible whilst also improving student outcomes and experience.
There may be many reasons a member of staff will ask for FW, for example:
- Short-term change required to working hours for personal reasons.
- Long-term permanent change for work/life balance reasons.
- Job share, splitting the hours either equally or disproportionately.
- A change in circumstances for a staff member.
- Other opportunities arise for a staff member – either work or personal.
- Phased retirement plan over a year or two.
There are a variety of flexible working options and some examples are:
- Staggered hours - Flexible start/leave times – extended day timetable
- Compressed hours - Working full-time hours but over fewer days.
- Annualised hours - Working hours spread across the year (this may include some school closure days, or where hours vary across the year to suit the school and employee).
- Part time - Working fewer hours that full-time hours and choice of time off.
- Job share - Recruitment & retention – job share and flexible working patterns are considered.
- Phased retirement - Gradually reducing working hours and/or responsibilities to transition from full-time work to full-time retirement.
- Home / remote working - to work some hours/days at a different location
- Sabbatical - allowing time to explore other passions – whether personal or professional
- Paid family day - as required, for example for an important family event.
- Special leave – as required, for example for a wedding or graduation ceremony
The Employment Rights Act 1996 introduces the formal right of employees to request flexible working following 26 weeks of continuous employment. This is known as ‘making a statutory application’.
Employees are only eligible to make a statutory request for flexible working if they have not made a request to work flexibly within the past 12 months. Employers have a responsibility to provide a response to a statutory flexible working request within three months, including the conclusion of any appeal.
The employee should submit a written application to their manager:
- stating their desired working pattern and the intended start date
- at least 3 months in advance of the proposed change
- setting out ways of mitigating the impact of the request on the school and their colleagues
- including if their request is in relation to the Equality Act, for example as a reasonable adjustment for a disability
Any request that is made and accepted will be a permanent change to the employee’s contractual terms and conditions, unless agreed otherwise. If the employer refuses the flexible working request, they must write to the employee giving the business reasons for the refusal. The employee may be able to submit a complaint to an employment tribunal.
For more information about making a statutory flexible working request, see the ACAS guide to the right to request flexible working.
Employees should check their organisation’s policy to ensure they follow the procedures in place for discussing their request with their line manager or head teacher.
If the school or trust does not have a flexible working policy, employees should speak to their manager about what flexible working arrangements are available to them.
(Source: DFE website)
Yes, an employer should consider every request and a timely response issued. For more information on flexible working in schools, please click here.