Flexible working: the law and best practice

Reaching a decision on a flexible working request


You must notify an employee of your decision within 14 days of the meeting to discuss their flexible working request.

If you need more time to consider the request, you must agree this with the employee.

If you cannot agree to the working pattern asked for, you can still try to reach an agreement with the employee on an alternative arrangement.

Accepting a flexible working request

If you accept an employee's flexible working request, you must write to them:

  • detailing their new working pattern
  • stating the date on which it will start
  • ensuring that this notice is dated
  • stating that the arrangement means a permanent change to the employee's terms and conditions of employment (unless agreed otherwise)

Flexible working trial periods

If you or the employee are not sure that the proposed flexible working pattern will work in practice, you could try a different working arrangement or consider a trial period for flexible working.

Trial periods can happen at two stages before a formal agreement is reached on the flexible working request:

  • If you know that your employee will be applying, then you can agree to a trial period before they submit a formal written flexible working request. If you do this, the formal procedure will still be available to the employee in the future.
  • If the employee makes a formal written application, you could agree to an extension of time for you to make a decision and the trial period could happen before you reach a final agreement. In this case, the rest of the formal procedure would still be available to the employee.

Informal temporary flexible working arrangements

If you and the employee think that a flexible working arrangement resulting in a permanent change to their contract of employment may not be the best solution, you could consider an informal temporary arrangement.

For example, this may be appropriate when the employee suddenly becomes the carer of an adult with a terminal illness or they have to care for someone with a fluctuating condition like Parkinson's disease.

You should put any such agreement in writing.