Right to request flexible working


Since 7 March 2024, you have a new right to request a flexible working arrangement if you are a parent or carer.

You can request remote working from your first day in a new job but you must have 6 months of continuous service before the arrangement can start.

See ‘Who has the right to request flexible working?’ below.

This page summarises the duties and responsibilities set out in the WRC’s Code of Practice . You and your employer can agree on more favourable arrangements than what is set out in the legislation.

Code of practice on flexible working

The law on the right to request flexible working is set out in Part 2 of the Work Life Balance and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 2023.

For full practical guidance for employers and employees on how to make and handle requests for flexible working arrangements, you can read the Workplace Relations Commission’s (WRC) Code of Practice for Employers and Employees on the Right to Request Flexible Working and Right to Request Remote Working.

Supports for employers

If you are an employer, you can use the templates in Section 3 of the WRC Code of Practice to develop:

  • A Work-Life Balance Policy
  • An application form for flexible working requests

Who has the right to request flexible working?

To request flexible working, you must be either:

  • A parent or acting ‘in loco parentis’ (acting as a parent to the child) of a child under 12, or under 16 if your child has a disability or long-term illness
  • A carer providing personal care or support to a specified person living in the same household, needing significant care for a serious medical reason

A specified person can be your:

  • Child (including an adopted child)
  • Spouse or civil partner
  • Cohabitant
  • Parent or grandparent
  • Brother or sister
  • Housemate (any other person to those listed above who lives in the same house as you)

Length of service

You have the right to request remote working from your first day in a new job. However, you must have 6 months of continuous service (continuous employment) before the arrangement can start.

If you left your job and came back to the same employer within 26 weeks, this gap does not count towards the 6-month requirement.

What is flexible working?

Flexible working is an arrangement where your normal working hours or pattern is adjusted, including through remote working, flexible schedules or reduced hours.

Depending on the role or business, flexible working can take various forms. You and your employer can agree more favourable arrangement than what's set out in the legislation.

Types of flexible working


Part-time work

Fewer hours than full-time employees.

Term-time work

Unpaid leave for a specific period, often during summer.


Full-time role split between two employees who share duties and benefits proportionally.


Varying start and finish times outside core hours, meeting required work hours per week or month.

Compressed working hours

Full-time hours condensed into fewer days, for example a five-day week compressed into four days.

Remote Working

Working part or all of the week away from the employer's location, such as working from home.


Making a request for a flexible working arrangement

When making a flexible working request to your employer, you must:

  • Submit it as soon as reasonably practicable, but at least 8 weeks before the proposed start of the flexible work arrangement
  • Provide a written request or use an online application form
  • Outline the type of flexible working arrangement you are asking for
  • Set out the proposed start date and duration of the arrangement

Extra information

Your employer can also ask you for extra information they need to consider your request.

They can ask for details of the person needing care (for example your child, spouse, parent and so on).

For a child, they can ask for a copy of their birth certificate or certificate of placement.

For someone needing significant care for a medical reason, they can ask for details of:

  • Your relationship to the person
  • The nature of the care needed
  • Relevant evidence such as a medical certificate signed by a medical practitioner or other evidence your employer may reasonably require

Support for employees and employers

A template application for flexible working is in Section 3 of the WRC Code of Practice.

Right to a response to your request

Your employer must respond to your flexible working request as soon as possible. They must give you their decision within 4 weeks of getting your request, at the latest.

What your employer should consider

Your employer should consider your flexible working request based on:

  • Their own needs (the business needs)
  • Your needs and reasons for the request
  • The WRC Code of Practice

Employers can also consider the guidance for remote working requests set out in part 2 of the WRC Code of Practice.

If your request is approved

If your employer approves your request, an agreement is signed by both you and your employer.

The agreement should set out:

  • Details of the arrangement
  • The start date
  • The duration of the arrangement

If your request is refused

Your employer must tell you in writing that your request has been refused and give you the reasons why.

If your employer needs more time

Your employer can ask for more time to decide on your request. They must tell you how much longer they need but it cannot be more than 8 weeks.

Changing your flexible working arrangement

You and your employer have the option to change the arrangement after it has been approved, either before or after it begins.

Changes to your flexible working must be agreed in writing. They could include:

  • Postponing the arrangement and agreeing on a new start date
  • Shortening or changing the length of the arrangement
  • Changes details of the arrangement in a way you both agree to

If you get sick before starting the new arrangement

Tell your employer if you get sick before your new arrangement begins and you can no longer take care of the person covered under the flexible working arrangement.

You should tell them in writing and include a medical certificate or other proof that you cannot provide care for the person because you are sick.

Terminating your flexible working arrangement

Your employer can end your arrangement if it substantially affects their business.

Reasons your employer can terminate your arrangement

Your employer may want to end the flexible working arrangement because of:

  • Seasonal changes in workload
  • Unavailability of someone to do your job
  • The nature of your job responsibilities
  • The number of employees in the workplace
  • Overlapping flexible working arrangements of employees
  • Any other factors affecting the operation of their business

Employers should make sure their reasons for termination are fair, objective, and reasonable.

Notice of termination of your flexible work arrangement

Before giving you a notice of termination, your employer must:

  • Tell you in writing of the proposal to end your arrangement
  • Detail the reasons for termination
  • Allow you 7 days after you get notice to make representations regarding the proposal
  • Consider, objectively and fairly, any representations you make before making a final decision

When you ‘make a representation’, you can mention any facts or reasons why you think the arrangement should continue.

If your employer still decides to end your arrangement, they must give you a written notice of termination. This must include the reasons for ending it and the date you must return to your original working arrangement.

The return date must be at least 4 weeks from the date of the termination notice (unless the arrangement's original end date is less than 4 weeks away).

Termination for abuse of the arrangement

You must use the flexible working arrangement for the reasons it was approved in your request.

Your employer can terminate the arrangement (see process above) if they have reasonable grounds to believe you are not using it for those reasons.

They must give you notice and allow you 7 days to make representations before terminating the arrangement.

Asking to return to your previous working arrangement

You can ask to return sooner to your original working arrangement. You should do this in writing, setting out your reasons and the proposed new date.

Your employer must respond within 4 weeks, considering business needs and the reasons for your request.

If your employer agrees for you to return sooner, they can suggest a different date for returning to the original working arrangement.

Enforcing your rights

Protection of your employment rights

You must not be victimised for using or requesting a flexible working arrangement.

Resolving issues

If you have concerns that your request has not been properly considered according to the law and the WRC Code of Practice, you should try to solve the issue informally with your employer first.

If you cannot resolve it informally, you can raise a formal complaint with your employer.

If there is a collective agreement between a trade union and an employer, they should use those procedures for discussing grievances.

Breaches of the WRC Code of Practice

If you think your employer has breached the WRC Code of Practice, you can make a formal complaint to the WRC. You should use the online complaint form.

You must make your complaint within 6 months of the breach. The time limit can be extended for a further 6 months if there is reasonable cause for the delay.

Read more about how to make a complaint, including details of the WRC adjudication process.

Contact the Workplace Relations Commission

Workplace Relations Commission - Information and Customer Service

O'Brien Road
R93 E920

Opening Hours: Mon. to Fri. 9.30am to 1pm, 2pm to 5pm
Tel: (059) 917 8990
Locall: 0818 80 80 90
Page edited: 21 March 2024