Informal applications for flexible working

(including requests for temporary changes to working hours)

The formal flexible working scheme reflects employees’ statutory entitlement under the provisions of the Flexible Working Regulations 2014 to request a permanent contractual change to their hours of work.  However, employees may discuss their need for flexible working with their line managers at any point and agreements about either permanent or temporary changes to hours of work may be reached informally without the need for a formal process.   

Temporary flexible working to accommodate complex personal circumstances

Many staff will face complex personal circumstances during their working life such as a period of acute caring for a sick family member, dealing with end of life care, adjusting to a new caring responsibility, or care arrangements breaking down.  In such circumstances staff may find that their normal working pattern becomes difficult to sustain in the immediate term but may not wish to make a permanent change to their working pattern, so that they can return to their normal hours after the immediate need has passed. Where it is operationally possible to do so, a temporary period of flexible working could be considered. For example, a period of shorter hours or staggered hours working, or working from home, may allow staff to continue to be professionally effective and engaged, whilst dealing effectively with their domestic responsibilities. 

Flexible working related to sickness or disability of the individual

For those dealing with their own sickness issues the provisions of the guidance on managing sickness apply, and a period of part-time working may be recommended by a health professional.  Disabled staff may also wish to request a temporary period of flexible working, which should be considered as a possible reasonable adjustment.


Indefinite flexibility in working arrangements is unlikely to be operationally possible and requests for temporary flexibility must therefore be for a fixed duration.  A maximum period of one year is advised.

Considering requests

In considering such requests line managers should consider the following:

  • the impact of the requested change on the operational functioning of the department
  • how the workload can be managed without an undue impact on other employees (for example where a member of staff is reducing their hours, can the salary savings be used to engage a temporary agency work, or offer a short-term contract)
  • for how long (maximum one year) the department could offer flexibility.

Sponsored visa holders

If the application for flexible working involves a reduction in hours and the employee has a certificate of sponsorship, they should seek advice from the Staff Immigration Team since a reduction in hours and salary would be reportable and there may be issues if the salary dropped below the level required by the Home Office.

Actioning changes

If, after discussion, the requested change can be accommodated, there is no requirement for a formal application to be made.   A  pro-forma 'record of change form' is provided (see the right hand menu on this page) to help departments to keep a record of what has been agreed.

The following steps should be followed to record and action the change: