How to Ask Your Employer for Flexible Working

So for 9 months, life has been about little else except obsessions about sleep, feeding and doing everything in your power to keep a little person alive. But now your head is starting to get around to thinking about you going back to work.

You have a job to go back to, which is great, but you’ve come to realise that you no longer want to be working 5 days a week. However, and this is the biggie…you have to ask your boss if you can work fewer hours and frankly, it’s filling you with dread.

True, it might be daunting….however, the key (as with most things) is preparation. So here are our top tips to make sure you have everything covered.

  1. It is a little-known fact that you are perfectly within your rights to ask for a flexible working arrangement (as long as you have been with your company for over 26 weeks then ANYONE can ask, not just parents). The business is then obliged to assess your proposal and then either agree or provide a credible business reason as to why they’re saying no.

  2. What does part-time or flexible working mean to you? This is imperative that you answer this question so you can go in with a clear and well-thought-out proposal for your manager. Are you thinking 3 days in the office and 1 from home, compressed hours or just a fixed 2.5 days a week. How are you going to make this work and ensure it’s a win/win for both you and the company.

  3. You will then need to put your request in writing to your manager. This is known as making a ‘statutory application’ and the letter will need to include:

    1. The date

    2. The statement "this is a statutory request"

    3. How you would like to work flexibly and a proposed start date

    4. Details of how this will impact the business and how this could be dealt with

A business is then obliged to come back to you within 3 months. Remember, it’s perfectly possible that a manager or HR will want to speak to you regarding your request. If this happens, always be confident about your choice and NEVER apologise.

GPS Return in Harrogate provides help and guidance for people returning to work after being on a career break. We run regular workshops and bespoke 1-1 coaching that can cover everything from helping you to work out what it is you want to do, how to update your CV and how to prepare for those tricky interview questions you might get about your career break. For more information, please go to