Flexible working - the law and best practice

Application for flexible working

An employee's application should set out their desired working pattern and how they think you can accommodate it. You should accept the information they give as true unless you have good reason to doubt it.

Information that must be included in a flexible working application

In order for a flexible working application to be valid, it must contain certain information. Employees can make an application using form FW(A) which is available from the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) website.

Download form FW(A) from the DEL website (PDF, 258K).

However, you can accept an email or letter, or provide employees with your own application form.

If the employee doesn't use form FW(A), to be valid their application must:

  • be dated and in writing
  • state that it is being made under the statutory right to make a flexible working request
  • confirm that they have, or expect to have, caring responsibility for a child or adult in need of care
  • confirm their relationship with the child or adult in question
  • specify the flexible working pattern applied for
  • explain what effect the proposed change may have on your business and how you can deal with any such effect
  • state the date on which they want the change to start
  • state whether they have made any applications to you before and, if so, when

The employee should allow plenty of time between the date of the application and the date they expect the flexible working arrangement to start. This is to allow you time to look at their application and assess whether or not you can accommodate it.

Proof of parental/caring responsibilities

Employees do not have to give you proof of their caring relationship. Therefore you should accept applications in good faith and make the decision on whether or not to grant a request solely on business grounds.

In addition, an employee does not have to show:

  • what level of care the child or adult in question requires
  • why they are required to provide that care

Nor does the employee have to provide proof of their relationship to the child or adult.

You should make the decision on whether or not you can grant a request based on business grounds rather than the employee's personal circumstances. If you still suspect that the employee is abusing the right, you should use your disciplinary procedures.

Relevant types of adult care

The care given to an adult can include:

  • emotional support
  • giving/supervising medicines
  • escorting to doctors' appointments
  • keeping the care recipient company
  • help with financial matters or paperwork
  • supervision of the person being looked after
  • help with personal care, eg dressing, bathing, toileting
  • help with mobility, eg walking, getting in and out of bed
  • housekeeping, eg preparing meals, shopping, cleaning
  • nursing tasks, eg daily blood checking, changing dressings

This list does not include all the types of adult care that an employee may wish to provide.

Flexible working requests and the contract of employment

If you accept an employee's flexible working request, this will be a permanent change to their contractual terms and conditions unless you agree otherwise.

If you or the employee are concerned about this, you could either suggest that they work flexibly over a trial period or agree that the arrangement will be temporary.


    Developed with:

    Department for Business, Innovation & Skills

    The Department for Employment and Learning

    Labour Relations Agency