What can the perceived challenges be?

Whilst there are many benefits of flexible working, there are also challenges such as cost, timetabling and communication.  However clear procedures, timelines and proformas will support school’s to reduce barriers and concerns and manage all flexible working requests in a timely and fair manner.

If you have a concern or barrier contact us here and we will support you to overcome this.

Want more information: DFE guidance to flexible working in school - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/flexible-working-in-schools/flexible-working-in-schools--2 

What should I expect when making a flexible working request?

You should expect fairness and transparency in the process for requesting flexible working but not equivalent outcomes. Everyone’s roles and responsibilities are different in a school, and this will be considered when reviewing a request. The needs of the pupils will always come first. 

I’d like to work flexibly, what do I do next?

Speak to your line manager and check your school’s flexible working policy.

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.

The aim is to work together with your school to find a solution that works for everyone. A flexible and collaborative approach is essential.

Am I entitled to flexible working?

Yes if you’ve been working for at least 26 continuous weeks with your school then you are able to put in a request for flexible working. Just remember you can only make one request in a 12month period and your employer can legally take up to 3 months to respond. 

Some employers may suggest a trial period for flexible working before contractual changes are made.

Do employers have to consider flexible working?

Yes. Each request should be considered and a timely response issued.

More information on the consideration of flexible working can be found on this website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/flexible-working-in-schools 

What does the law say about flexible working?

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.

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)

What are the definitions of flexible working?

The DFE defines a variety of flexible approaches as stated below:

Staggered hours
The employee has different start, finish and break times.

Compressed hours
Working full-time hours but over fewer days.

Annualised hours
Working hours spread across the year, which may include some school closure days, or where hours vary across the year to suit the school and employee.

Working less than full-time hours. Not all teachers who work part time choose to do so. This may be linked to subject and timetabling requirements, particularly if they teach subjects for which there is low demand. Employees can work full time but still have flexible work arrangements in place.

Job share
Two or more people doing one job and splitting the hours.

Phased retirement
Gradually reducing working hours and/or responsibilities to transition from full-time work to full-time retirement.

Full-time flex
Working or taking PPA at home, accessing CPD remotely, ad hoc or occasional informal requests.

What types of flexible working exist?

You are probably most familiar with part-time working or job-sharing which are both types of formal flex reflected in your contract. But there are many other options that could support you to find more work-life balance, improve your well-being both professionally and personally. 

A helpful way to think about flexible working is formal and informal flex.

Formal Flex

  • Part-time working and job share
  • Regular, fixed home/remote working
  • Flexi time
  • Regular staggered hours
  • Phased retirement
  • Annualised hours
  • arrange
  • Personal
  • Compressed hours
  • Term time working

Informal Flex

  • Occasional home/remote
  • working
  • Occasional staggered hours
  • Occasional time-off in-lieu arrangements
  • Personal/family time

Formal flex requires a contractual change. Informal flex is more ad hoc and doesn’t need any changes to your contract. It can also be combined with more formal arrangements.

Why might staff ask for flexible working?

Life’s demands and commitments change throughout our careers and at times we need flex in our working practices.

There are many reasons staff may request flexible working and some schools adopt a reason neutral approach recognising that all reasons are valid.

What are the benefits of flexible working?

Flexible working benefits both teachers and schools. The main benefits are:

  • Schools retain talented and experienced staff
  • Schools recruit and attract applicants from a wider talent pool
  • Schools reduce recruitment and training costs
  • Teachers get a better work-life balance 
  • Promotion of greater wellbeing 

Additional benefits include: inclusion, diversity, efficiency, succession planning, mentoring, innovation, cross-pollination of skills and expertise.