Flexible and part-time working

If you’re unable to work full-time because of your condition or impairment, you can apply for roles that are advertised as part-time.

You could try:

Flexible Works for flexible working jobs

Patchwork Hub accessible job search

If a job is advertised as full-time, you can ask for part-time or flexible working. This is true if you’re working or if you’re offered a job.

If you’re a new employee, make sure that you have a job offer in writing before you ask. A letter or an email is fine. This will allow you to ask for reasonable adjustments as a disabled person.

Definition of flexible and part-time work

Part-time working

There is no specific definition of part-time working. It’s usually less than the standard 35 hours a week. Many part-time employees work between 14 and 28 hours a week but it can be less.

Flexible working

Flexible working is defined as “a way of working that suits an employee’s needs, for example having flexible start and finish times, or working from home”.

Flexible means arranging your work into a pattern that suits your needs. This could mean changing your hours or working from home. Flexible working does not always mean working part-time.

Casual working

Casual or zero hours working allows you to turn down work when it is not suitable.

Zero-hours contracts

Asking for flexible or part-time working

From 6 April 2024, you will have the right to request flexible working from day 1 of a new job. You will also have the right to 2 requests a year.

Employers must consider any requests within 2 months. If they reject your request, they must provide a reason.

Anyone can ask for flexible working or negotiate for part-time hours, but it’s up to the business to decide if they want to allow it.

You can get support in negotiations from friends, colleagues or union representatives. If you reduce your hours, think about how you will manage on less money.

Ask if your employer has a flexible working policy. This could be on the company intranet or in the employee handbook. Having a policy can be a good sign. It means that the employer is already thinking about how flexible working might work. Most policies do not cover flexible working as a 'reasonable adjustment'.

If you ask for flexible working, you do not have to say you are disabled. But if you do, it is harder for employers to say no if you have asked for flexible working as a reasonable adjustment.

Examples of flexible working may include changing:

  • where you work (for example, working from home or another office)
  • your working pattern (for example, part-time, term-time or flexi-time)
  • your hours (for example, reduced or compressed into 4 days, not 5)
  • your start and finish times (for example, so you do not travel during peak times)

Asking for flexible working (ACAS)

Working families

Finding accessible work with a chronic illness (Pippa Stacey)

Asking for flexible or part-time working as a reasonable adjustment

If you ask for flexible working as a reasonable adjustment, you have more rights under the Equality Act 2010. Your employer has a duty to make reasonable adjustments for you to do your job.

Reasonable adjustments at work

You must say if you're asking for flexible working as a reasonable adjustment. This means talking with your employer about your condition and how it affects you.

Talking to your employer about disability

Employers do not have to agree with all requests for adjustments. But, if flexible working is reasonable and necessary for you to do your job, they have to agree. What is 'reasonable' will depend on what you need and the kind of job that you do.

If you are applying for a full-time job, you can ask if the employer will allow reduced or flexible hours. They may say no. Many employers expect people to pass probation before they offer these options.

If your employer rejects adjustments

What would flexible working look like for you?

Make a list of the tasks you’re expected to do in your role. Highlight things that would be easier if you could do them in a different way.

If you’re doing this when you’re offered a job, use the job description to make this list. You could ask the employer what a typical day in the role would look like.

Think about what adjustments you need because of your condition.

  • Do you need your job to be flexible all the time or some of the time?
  • Do you need to do fewer hours or days?
  • Do you need to work from home some of the time?
  • Do you need to work specific hours?
  • Can you swap some tasks or responsibilities for others?
  • What kind of support and equipment will you need to work flexibly? Is this available from Access to Work?

Finding work that suits your life and condition

Talk to an employment adviser in our online community

Work and claiming benefits

Last reviewed by Scope on: 12/12/2023

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