What is flexible working?

Last updated: 05 Mar 2020

Flexible working is when an employee’s working pattern reflects their needs. This could include working from home, or different start and finish times.

Although it is particularly common for parents and carers to request flexible working arrangements, all employees can request flexible working.

What are the different types of flexible working?

There are a number of different forms that flexible working can take.

Flexible working hours

Flexible start and finish times to the working day. There will often be a core time, for example 10am-4pm, with staff being able to start and finish any time up to two hours before or after this time. Hours can be built up to take time off work.

Compressed hours

Working the total number of hours over fewer days. For example, some people will have a 40-hour working week and will do this over four days instead of the usual five days.

Term-time working

A form of part-time working where the employee only works during school terms and is off work during the school holidays.


Working predominantly from home, with some time spent in the office.

Annual hours

Where there are set yearly hours rather than weekly hours, and there is flexibility to work at different periods throughout the year.

Career breaks

A period of unpaid leave that can last from a few months to five years. The best schemes guarantee the right to return to a job at the same level and operate a ‘keep in touch’ policy to ensure continued contact during the career break.


A period of paid or unpaid leave, often to undertake education or research.

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