Part-time hours

Working less than full-time hours. Staff can be contracted to work part-time or may drop their hours to part-time following a request to their employer. Part-time hours do not have to be full days – staff can work parts of days (e.g. mornings)

Staggered hours

The employee has different start, finish and break times to the majority of staff.

Compressed hours

Working full-time hours but over fewer days.

Annualised hours

Working hours spread across the year, which may include some school closure days, or where hours vary across the year to suit the school and employee.

Job share

Two or more people doing one job and splitting the hours. In schools you can also job share a TLR (on a fulltime or part-time teaching contract)

Phased retirement

Gradually reducing working hours and/or responsibilities to transition from full-time work to full-time retirement.


Taking an unpaid break from work during which employees can pursue their interests, like travelling, writing, research, volunteering or other activities.

  • Ability to recruit from a wider pool of staff and to have a competitive advantage in the job market
  • Retention of experienced staff through phased retirement and improved succession planning
  • Benefits to students from different areas of expertise through job shares
  • Improvement in well-being, work life balance and morale for employees
  • Cost effective method of expanding a team.
  • Parental attitudes: some parents may not support the flexible working arrangements of employees, such as job shares. However, clear communication about how arrangements will work and the benefits to students as well as staff can counter-balance this.
  • Some flexible working arrangements (such as having 2 job share partners) may be costly for schools. However, if flexible working arrangements are successful and experienced employees are retained, the reduction in cost from recruitment and induction can offset this.
  • Some practices, like meetings policies, may need to be adapted to take account of flexible working policy. For example, meetings might need to be held only during working hours. Schools can also consider using online platforms to make meetings more accessible.

The Employment Rights Act 1996 introduces the formal right of employees to request flexible working following 26 weeks of continuous employment. This is known as ‘making a statutory application’.

Employees are only eligible to make a statutory request for flexible working if they have not made a request to work flexibly within the past 12 months. Employers have a responsibility to provide a response to a statutory flexible working request within three months, including the conclusion of any appeal.

The employee should submit a written application to their manager:

  • stating their desired working pattern and the intended start date
  • at least 3 months in advance of the proposed change
  • setting out ways of mitigating the impact of the request on the school and their colleagues
  • including if their request is in relation to the Equality Act, for example as a reasonable adjustment for a disability

Any request that is made and accepted will be a permanent change to the employee’s contractual terms and conditions, unless agreed otherwise. If the employer refuses the flexible working request, they must write to the employee giving the business reasons for the refusal. The employee may be able to submit a complaint to an employment tribunal.

For more information about making a statutory flexible working request, see the ACAS guide to the right to request flexible working.

Employees should check their organisation’s policy to ensure they follow the procedures in place for discussing their request with their line manager or head teacher.

If the school or trust does not have a flexible working policy, employees should speak to their manager about what flexible working arrangements are available to them.

(Source: DFE website)

Yes. Each request should be considered fairly and a timely response issued.

More information on the consideration of flexible working can be found on this website