Coronavirus: information and updates

Flexible and part-time working

If you’re unable to work full-time because of your condition or impairment, then you can ask your employer 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.

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.

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. It can also mean changing what you’re expected to do. Flexible working does not always mean working part-time.

Asking for flexible or part-time working

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.

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 talk about disability. But, it’s easier for your employer to say no and if they do say yes, they can change their mind in future if you have not asked for flexible working as a reasonable adjustment for a disabled person.

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 a disabled person to do the job.

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.

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, then 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, then you can ask for part-time or flexible hours. But it will depend on the employer as to whether they give this. Many employers expect people to pass probation before they offer these options.

Find out more about reasonable adjustments.

What would flexible working look like for you?

Make a list of the tasks you’re expected to do in your role. Highlight the ones 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 also try asking the employer what a typical day in the role would look like.

Think about what kind of flexible working you need because of your condition:

  • Do you need your job to be flexible all the time or just some of the time?
  • Do you need to do fewer hours, or could you compress the same hours into 4 days rather than 5?
  • 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?

Employment information supported by Virgin Media.

We're working with Virgin Media to support 1 million disabled people in getting into and staying in work by the end of 2020.

Last reviewed by Scope on: 16/06/2020

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