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Factsheet:

Flexible working

Resource summary

This factsheet was last updated in June 2014.

What is flexible working?

The term ‘flexible working’ describes a type of working arrangement which gives some degree of flexibility on how long, where, when and at what times employees work. The flexibility can be in terms of working time, working location or the pattern of working.

Flexible working practices include:

  • Part-time working: work is generally considered part-time when employers are contracted to work anything less than full-time hours.

  • Term-time working: a worker remains on a permanent contract but can take paid/unpaid leave during school holidays.

  • Job-sharing: a form of part-time working where two (or occasionally more) people share the responsibility for a job between them.

  • Flexitime: allows employees to choose, within certain set limits, when to begin and end work.

  • Compressed hours: compressed working weeks (or fortnights) don't necessarily involve a reduction in total hours or any extension in individual choice over which hours are worked. The central feature is reallocation of work into fewer and longer blocks during the week.

  • Annual hours: the total number of hours to be worked over the year is fixed but there is variation over the year in the length of the working day and week. Employees may or may not have an element of choice over working patterns.

  • Working from home on a regular basis: workers regularly spend time working from home.

  • Mobile working/teleworking: this permits employees to work all or part of their working week at a location remote from the employer's workplace.

  • Career breaks: career breaks, or sabbaticals, are extended periods of leave – normally unpaid – of up to five years or more.

  • Zero hours contracts: in which an individual has no guarantee of a minimum number of working hours, so they can be called upon as and when required and paid just for the hours they work.

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  • What is flexible working?
  • The potential benefits of flexible working
  • Implementing flexible working practices
  • The legal position
  • CIPD viewpoint
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  • References and further reading

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