Can I change to homeworking to help me care for my young children?

This depends on a number of factors – most obviously the kind of job you do.

You have a legal right to ask to work flexibly. The law states specifically that you can make a request to work some or all of the time from home. However it is a right to ask to work flexibly. It is not a right to work flexibly.

In June 2014, the right to ask to work flexibly was extended to all employees with at least 26 weeks’ service. Under the old law, only those with caring responsibilities for children or vulnerable adults had the right to ask for flexible working. Despite the change to the law, when dealing with requests to work flexibly, your employer will want to avoid any suggestions of sex discrimination, bearing in mind that the majority of carers in the UK are still women.

Your employer has a legal duty to consider your request seriously and can only turn it down for one of a list of eight business-related reasons. See our Flexible Working section for tips on making your request. Your employer should take a positive approach, by thinking about how your request can be accommodated, rather than looking for reasons why it should fail.

Before you make your request, think about the ways in which your request could be made to work. For example:

  • What parts of your job can be done well at home and are there benefits to your employer of your suggested arrangement that you could highlight?
  • How will your proposal affect your colleagues’ workload and working patterns?
  • Can you make suggestions to address your colleagues’ likely concerns? How about suggesting a trial period? It will be much harder for an employer to turn you down if you have successfully demonstrated over a trial period – say 12 weeks – that the arrangement works.

Acas has produced a Code of Practice as well as guidance on considering flexible working requests. It is a good idea to read both carefully before putting your request together.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.