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Different types of flexible working
Flexible working means altering the way you work. This includes changing your hours, either compressing them or changing to part-time or term-time only, or working wholly or partly from home. Below is an outline of some of the ways employees may work flexibly.
- Working part –time or reduced working hours – when an employee is contracted to work anything less than the standard full-time hours for that organisation. (e.g. 2 or 3 days per week, or shorter days than standard, for example, 10 am – 4 pm where standard hours are 9-5).
- Job-sharing – a form of part-time working where one full-time role is shared between two (or occasionally more) employees.
- Working from home (all or part of the time)
- Mobile working or teleworking – working at another premises other than the contractual place of work or the employee’s home – for example at clients’ own offices, at a different site belonging to the employer, whilst travelling by train or air (e.g. travelling to work or meetings) or at other locations such as cafés or hotels (whilst away on business).
- Condensed/compressed hours – these arrangements normally involve reallocation of working time over a week or a fortnight. For example, where the standard hours are Monday to Friday 9am-5pm (with a one hour lunch break), an individual might complete their 35 hour working week by working 8am – 6pm (i.e. total of six additional hours) on Monday to Wednesday then 8am – 5pm on Thursday (i.e. one additional hour), and then have Friday as a day off.
- Annual hours – the individual is employed on the basis of a total number of working hours across the year (this may be the standard number of hours or part-time), but will work different hours on different days and weeks. Normally the pay and benefits will be calculated as if the employee worked the same hours all the time.
- Term-time – where an employee is on a permanent contract but takes paid or unpaid leave during the school holidays (in addition to their normal holiday allowance). This arrangement is often done as a form of annual hours contract i.e. the employee will receive the same pay and benefits on each pay-day, irrespective of how many hours they have worked in that particular period.
- Flexi-time – an arrangement whereby employees can choose their working hours within certain agreed limits. Often this pattern will be in place for a whole team rather than just one individual. For example, a team might be required to be at work between 11 am and 3 pm, but each individual have the freedom to decide which hours to do outside that time – so one individual might normally start at 10 and finish at 6, whilst their colleague works from 8am until 4pm each day.
- Employee self-rostering – employees within a team are given the responsibility of deciding as a team who will work each shift, in order to cover the total working week between them.
- Shift-swapping – team members may agree (normally with the agreement of a manager or supervisor) to swap their allocated working shifts. This may often be done on an informal ad-hoc basis, to allow team members flexibility when they need it.
- Zero hours contracts – where the number of hours contracted is completely flexible. These contracts can be contentious as they offer no guarantees to the employee and should be used with great caution. It is good practice to guarantee an agreed minimum number of hours each week to give the employee a level of security, and it should always be clear that the employee has the right to refuse additional hours that you offer if they wish to do so, without any fear of adverse consequences.