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Flexible working requests guidance

Information and guidance on making flexible working requests


Right to request

Under the Flexible Working Regulations 2014, employees with at least 26 weeks service have the legal right to request flexible working. The variations which might be requested include changes to working hours, revised start and finish times and working from home or internationally. The Council has a legal obligation to give reasonable consideration to a flexible working request and requests can only be refused when there is a clear business reason – (refer to page 6 of this guidance)

The Council is also committed to the Torbay Carer’s Strategy. This policy has been developed to support this commitment by recognising the needs of working carers. It brings together the employment policies and support that the Council has on offer to attract and retain carers within its workforce. The Council will therefore continue to give careful consideration to requests for flexible working from employees who have caring responsibilities or other significant work/life balance concerns.

Requests for flexible working deal with permanent variations to work, therefore if a change to an employee’s contract is agreed, it will be a permanent variation and there is no automatic right for the employee to revert to the former working arrangements. However, this does not prevent any employee from making a request for a temporary adjustment to their line manager for a maximum of 6 months, at which point this change will need to be confirmed as permanent or a return to substantive post will take place. Such temporary adjustments can only be considered in exceptional circumstances, such as to provide care for a terminally ill relative or to accommodate similar life-change situations. Temporary cases will be dealt with informally (outside of these procedures but using these procedures and principles as a guide). Where a temporary change is agreed, the manager will need to complete a ‘Change to Working Hours’ form on MyView. 


This policy applies to all Council employees other than those in our schools, who have local arrangements.

Who does the legal right apply to?

Employees have the legal right to request flexible working if they have:

  • 26 weeks continuous service with Torbay Council at the date of application and
  • Not made another application during the past 12 months

Torbay Council want to encourage their employees to be able to work flexibly and to be able to exercise their right to request as widely as possible. If an employee doesn’t meet one or both of the above criteria, a request can still be considered. This will be subject first to the approval of their line manager then the relevant Divisional Director or Director. Managers are encouraged to be as flexible as possible.

What can be requested?

All employees can request changes to vary:

  • The number of hours they are required to work
  • The times they are required to be working
  • Where they are required to work - i.e. to request to be a hybrid worker, permanent home worker, to work from outside the UK, or permanent office worker.

Changes to working hours can include:

  • Working part time
  • Working annualised hours (a total number of hours to be worked per year, but not over a fixed weekly pattern)
  • Compressed working week (e.g. 37 hours over less than 5 days)
  • Greater flexibility in existing flexitime arrangements
  • Job sharing (where 2 people share responsibility for 1 post)
  • Working some form of shift working
  • Term-time only working

Related policies and guidance

Before making a request to be a hybrid worker, permanent home worker, or permanent office worker, please also refer to the Ways of Working Policy which sets out the principles and practical arrangements for different forms of flexible working. Other policies relating to flexible working are listed below:-

  • Flexitime and hours of work scheme
  • Working Time Regulations guidance

All are available from MyView, ‘My Documents’, Policies and Guidance section.

Reduced hours ‘look back’

The Council has introduced a ‘Look Back Period’ for employees who reduce their contractual hours under this policy.

If an employee is placed at risk within 9 months of the commencement of their reduced hours and they are subsequently made redundant as part of the process, the Council agrees to calculate the individual’s redundancy pay based on their previous working hours.

For employees who have undertaken a temporary reduction in hours prior to the permanent arrangement being confirmed, the temporary 6 months will count towards to 9-month look back period.

Making a request

The right to request flexible working legislation requires that employees must make their request setting out the following:-

  • Date of the application and when they would like the change to come into effect.
  • That they are making the application under their legal right to request flexible working and if they have made a previous application for flexible working and the date of the application.
  • The change applied for (e.g. wanting to work part-time, including details of the hours they’d prefer to work) and the date they wish it to become effective
  • The effect they envisage the change they are requesting will have on the Council/their work area and how it might be accommodated.
  • If the employee is making their request in relation to making a reasonable adjustment for a disability (under the Equality Act 2010), they should also make this clear within their request.

The employee should first have an informal discussion with their manager about their flexible working request to discuss their initial thoughts and any queries before submitting their formal request. In the case of a request to work internationally that discussion must also extend to the Divisional Director for the service and HR.  

If a request to work internationally is submitted the timescale may need to be extended for other matters to be considered; the timescale will be mutually agreed between the employee and manager(s).   

The law requires that all requests, including any appeals, must be considered and decided on within a period of three months from first receipt, unless mutually agreed between manager and employee (ACAS code of practice on flexible working requests).

A formal request can be made using the Flexible Working Request Form, available from MyView, under ‘My forms’. The line manager will then receive the application through the system for their consideration.

Considering an application

Line Managers should consider the benefits of the requested changes in working conditions for the employee and the effects that the proposed changes are likely to have on the Council, the work of the department/area of service and the employee’s colleagues.

Requests will not set a precedent or create a right for another employee to be granted a similar change to their working pattern.

The process diagram on page 7 can be followed when managing a flexible working request.

The Ways of Working policy also includes a set of considerations that managers can use to guide their decisions about individual or multiple flexible working requests within a service area.

Managers are not automatically obliged to agree to a request for flexible working but are under a duty to consider any valid request seriously.

For guidance in considering a request, please contact Human Resources

Making a fair decision

In conjunction with the above – considering an application:

Having considered the changes requested and weighing up the advantages and disadvantages, possible costs and logistical implications of granting the request the manager must decide whether the request could be accommodated.

The Line Manager must gain approval of their decision from their Divisional Director/Director before any form of response is given to the employee’s request.  There are two possible responses:

  • Accepting the request and agreeing the start date.
  • Rejecting the request setting out clear business reasons; how these apply to the application and the appeal process (see page 8)

The manager should either authorise or reject the employee’s request on MyView.

Advice should be sought from Human Resources before rejecting any requests

Where a request is to be rejected, the manager is strongly advised to have a discussion with the employee first to let them know their decision and the reasons for rejecting their request. 

Where a request is authorised, this will be notified to the employee via a MyView email, which will confirm their requested change as well as the permanent change to their terms and conditions of employment. Managers can also confirm this in writing to the employee using the template letters available from MyView, under ‘My Documents’, Policy Templates section but this is not a legal requirement.

Multiple applications

If several flexible working requests are made within one area, the Manager must ensure that a fair and reasoned decision is made, taking into consideration the circumstances and the possible consequences for the organisation. Whatever the process and decision, a record should be kept of the decision-making process, the decision that is made and the reason(s) for it.

Where a service area receives more than one request, these should be dealt with in the order that they are received. Each request will need to be considered on its own merits, taking into consideration the business case and the possible impact of refusing a request. Further discussions may be needed to see if there is any room for adjustment or compromise before a decision is confirmed.

Where a service area receives multiple applications in close proximity, the manager should look holistically at the requests to consider if any or all applications can be agreed or if there is any room for adjustment or compromise by any party before any final decisions are made for each application. All requests will need to be considered on merit, taking into consideration business cases and the possible impact of refusing any or all the requests.

The Ways of Working policy includes a set of considerations that managers can use to guide their decisions about multiple flexible working requests within a service area.

Please contact Human Resources for further advice to help to arrive at a fair and consistent decision

Refusing a request

In line with the statutory ACAS Code of Practice – Handling in a Reasonable Manner Request to Work Flexibly (June 2014), the only grounds for refusal are “business reasons”, as set out in legislation:

  • The burden of additional costs
  • Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
  • Inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff or recruit additional staff
  • Detrimental impact on quality or performance
  • Insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work
  • Planned structural changes.

If a request is refused, the employee must be provided with an explanation as to why the reason (from the list above) applies in their circumstances.

If a manager is considering rejecting a request Human Resources must be contacted for further advice on the process:

Flexible working request process

Employee has an informal discussion with their manager first about their flexible working request and initial thoughts

Employee submits a formal flexible working request on MyView – ‘My forms’

With support from Human Resources, Line Manager explores the feasibility of the request before making a decision. This could include meeting with employee to gain clarification or negotiation of the requirements

At this point, no decision should be given to the person making the request

Manager seeks approval for their decision from the relevant Divisional Director or Director

Joint decision is to approve

If further information is required before a decision can be reachedl

Joint decision is to reject

If the request is agreed, the manager should authorise the employee’s request on MyView. The employee will then receive an email confirming the change to their contract and when it becomes effective.
This should be done within 28 days of receipt of the request.
The Manager is required to make the necessary changes via MyView - MyPeople tab, MyTeam changes.
It should be noted that no change of hours should be submitted until approval has been granted by the Head of Service, Assistant Director/Director.

If the request cannot be agreed without further investigation, it is recommended that the Line Manager meets with the employee concerned to have initial discussions about the request within 28 days of receiving it. This may be appropriate in instances of requests to work internationally where the timescale may need to be extended for other matters to be considered; timescale to be mutually agreed. The legal timescale for consideration and decision is 3 months.

The employee can be accompanied to the meeting by a work colleague or trade union representative. It is advisable that a representative from HR is present at this meeting.

If a compromise can be reached, e.g. a trial period for a temporary period, the manager should select the ‘Authorise – temporary’ option on MyView. A letter/email will then be generated to confirm this temporary adjustment and end date. After which the request will either be authorised or rejected.

If the request is not agreed after further consideration and discussion with HR, the employee should be informed in writing. It is recommended that written confirmation takes place within 28 days of any meeting taking place.

The letter should include the reasons for refusal, explaining why they apply in the circumstances and clearly set out the appeal procedure (section 8).

The employee can appeal the decision and under this policy has 14 days after the date they were notified of the refusal to appeal in writing, setting out the grounds of appeal

HR receives an appeal against the decision

The appeal should normally be heard by the Head or Service or Assistant Director /Director of the service within 21 days of receiving the appeal letter The employee can be accompanied to the meeting by a work colleague or

The employee must be notified of the appeal decision within 14 days of any appeal hearing (section 9)

This process must be completed within 3 months of the date of submission of the Flexible Working request.


Under this policy, the employee has 14 days after the date they were notified of the refusal to appeal the decision. The appeal must be in writing, setting out the grounds of appeal.

Any appeal should normally be heard by a Divisional Director or Director from the service area within 21 days of receiving the employee’s letter. An employee may be represented at the meeting by a work colleague or trade union representative.

The employee must be notified of the decision within 14 days of any appeal hearing. If the request is again refused, then the reasons for refusal must be set out in writing, explaining why they apply in the circumstances.

If the request is accepted following the appeal hearing, the employee will be notified of the change to their working pattern by their line manager in writing and when this will start (as set out previously).

In exceptional circumstances, it may not be possible for hearings to be arranged or responses to be given in line with the time limits set out above (e.g. the line manager is absent).  In such cases, the employee should be informed and any hearing arranged at the earliest possible mutually convenient date.

If a Divisional Director or Director has been previously involved in the process, another Manager should be brought in to jointly hear the appeal.

If the employee is dissatisfied or unclear at any stage throughout the process, they can contact HR.

If an employee fails to attend a meeting, including an appeal meeting and then fails to attend a rearranged meeting without good reason, their application will be deemed to have been withdrawn.

External appeals (to an Employment Tribunal)

Employees covered by the legal right to request flexible working have the right to complain to an employment tribunal if they are dissatisfied with the outcome of an internal appeal. 

An eligible employee can complain to an employment tribunal that the Council:

  • Failed to hold an initial or appeal hearing
  • Failed to provide notice of a decision in accordance with the statutory timescales (3 months)
  • Rejected the application based on incorrect facts

A complaint would normally have to be brought within 3 months of any appeal hearing or date when it is alleged the procedure was not followed.

If a claim is brought, the tribunal will look at whether all proper procedures have been followed and will examine any disputed facts as to why the relevant business grounds for refusal apply.

If an employee’s complaint is upheld by a tribunal, they can order that:

  • The request by the employee should be reconsidered and/or
  • Compensation be paid (up to a maximum of 8 weeks’ pay)
  • The complaint be referred to arbitration by ACAS (both parties must agree to this as a potential remedy)

Line managers must consult their HR Advisor/Manager if they receive an application for flexible working and are considering refusing the request.

Human Resources can assist in helping to consider any request that might be made and responding to such requests and can be contacted by email to

Further guidance

Further guidance has been issued by Acas, which also includes some useful case studies and scenarios about the types of flexible working requests that may be received and how to deal with them. The guidance can be accessed via the Acas website:

Equality statement

This policy applies equally to all Council employees, as above, regardless of their age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, race, religion or belief, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership. Care will be taken to ensure that no traditionally excluded groups are adversely impacted in implementing this policy. 

Policy feedback

For policy feedback and/or queries, please contact:-

History of policy changes
Date Page Details of Change Agreed by:
18 April 2008 6

Capped compensation increased in line with S227 ERA 1996

1 April 2009 1,2,6

Adapted in line with regulations extending the age of child from under 6 to under 17

TJCC 26/02/09 FIO
September 2010 6

Reference to Equality Act 2010; change statutory rate

FIO – legislation change
March 2011 6

Legislation changes re: statutory redundancy pay.

FIO – legislation change
November 2012 3

Addition of new paragraph requesting for return to Human Resources.

SSG 11.11.12
June 2014 1,2,3,4,5

Legislation changes re: flexible working legislation

FIO – legislation change
October 2015 2

Inclusion of Look Back Period for reduction in hours requests.

For information only.
June 2016 4,5

Process change

For information only.
June 2017 4,7

Inclusion of temporary requests and application of look-back period in these circumstances. Inclusion of recommended timescales for responding to requests.

For information only.
May 2021 Various

Addition of the term ‘hybrid working’.

New section added – Related policies.

Flexibility added to statutory eligibility criteria

To incorporate new Flexible Working Request on MyView.

Removal of ‘Executive Head’, replaced with ‘Head of Service’.

Amendment to flowchart to reflect process changes.

Removal of 2nd stage appeal – not required by law.

Addition of Appendix 1 – Flexible Working Requests Checklist.

TJCC – May 2021
January 2023 Various

Expanded to include requests for working outside the UK.

August 2023 Various

Clarification of timescale for consideration and decision, and terminology change for working internationally.

Policy to be reviewed as and when legislation or operational reasons require it.

Appendix 1 – Flexible Working Requests Checklist - for Managers

The checklist below can be used by managers to help guide them through the steps of managing a request for Flexible Working.  It is important that the relevant timescales are adhered to, for guidance please contact

Activity ✓ or ✗ or N/A Date

Informal discussion taken place before employee submits formal Flexible Working request on MyView

HR contacted to discuss homeworking application

Meeting arranged with employee to discuss application within 28 days of receipt of application

Outcome of discussion recorded.

If agreed, request on MyView authorised – email confirmation will be sent to the employee.

Manager may also issue a letter to the employee to confirm the arrangement – template letters available on MyView, under My Documents, Template Letters section

If rejected, contact Human Resources for further guidance –

Employee completes Display Screen Equipment Workstation Assessment on SHEAssure – this should be in place for all employees

Employee has completed most recent iLearn modules relating to Information Governance and Information Security

IT03 form completed – if IT hardware/software required

TDA Helpdesk contacted for office equipment requests and delivery for homeworkers