How can we support employers with flexible working?


When your employee gives you a flexible working request do you know legally what you need to do? If not, read on…

Businesses need to look at a variety of methods to help close the gender pay gap and one such way is flexible working. The Chartered Management Institute’s (CMI) most recent report shows that in the 5 years since the statutory change stipulating that any employee with 26 weeks continuous service can make a request for flexible working, understanding of the legalisation is worryingly low from UK managers. In fact, they report that “only 1 in 4 managers fully understand the existing right to request legislation”

Benefits of flexible working to businesses can include –

  • Increases employee motivation
  • Better work life balance
  • Greater job satisfaction
  • Attracts and retains talent
  • Reduces office costs/stress
  • Boosts productivity

So, what do you need to do when legally considering a flexible working application?

As an employer there are 3 legal points you can be in breach of if you do not:

  • Give one of the 8 legal reasons for rejection to the employer (see below)
  • Take longer than 3 months for the whole process to be completed (from start to finish)
  • Give any reason for rejecting the application that isn’t factually correct

Eight legal reasons for rejection of a flexible working application:

  1. Burden of additional costs
  2. Determinantal effect on ability to meeting customer demand
  3. Inability to reorganise work among existing staff
  4. Inability to recruit additional staff
  5. Detrimental impact on quality
  6. Detrimental impact on performance
  7. Insufficiency of work during the period the employee proposes to work
  8. Planned structural changes

There is no legal right for the outcome of the flexible working request to be in writing or even to hold an appeal, but it is best practice to do so.

You must state at least one of these reasons if you are rejecting a flexible working application.

Any employee can apply for flexible working as long as they have 26 weeks continuous service, it can be for any reason they wish. The law used to state you had to be parent to request this right but this is no longer the case.

Once your employee submits a flexible working application the first thing you should do is set up a meeting (ideally face to face) as soon as possible after receiving the application.

You do not need to make a decision at the meeting, you can do this after and write to the employee with the outcome.

After the meeting if you agree to the request, the employee must receive the agreement in writing, with the date this is effective from and any other changes. An amendment to/ new contract or statement of terms and conditions must be issued within 28 days of the agreement to the changes.

If you do not agree to the application and if you cannot come to a compromise then you will need to write to the employee to confirm why the request is refused (citing one of the 8 reasons above).

It is best practice to give the option of appeal to the employee, then you can continue to discuss alterative patterns of flexible working or even a trial period.

After the appeal hearing it is best practice to write to the employee with the outcome of the appeal and why the application has been declined again.

The whole process from receipt of the application to the final decision being made must be completed within 3 months.

The employee has the right to make another application 12 months after the last application.

With over 12 years’ experience as a HR Consultant, and helping hundreds of individuals with flexible working applications and appeals over the last 2 years, I now also offer a flexible working helpline for employers/ managers – To book a call please email or to find out more.


Flexible working, the missing piece in your business?

Flexible working is making some big waves in 2017 as a workplace trend, especially with the General Election coming up next week, will the new governing party take this forward? The opportunity to ramp up the need for more employers to recruit flexibly and accept more flexible working applications should be a key part of the Governments manifesto.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) has written its own Manifesto for work in 2017. One key point is “We call on the next government to: Lead and support efforts to create more flexible and inclusive workplaces, to help individuals who are disadvantaged in the labour market, for whatever reason, to access and progress in work.

There needs to be some follow up since the legal change in 2014 when all employees were given the chance to request flexible working, (as long as they had the compulsory 26 weeks’ service with the employer). The change states you can request to work flexibly but that is where the legislation stops.

Flexible working isn’t just having more flexible starting and finishing times or home working but can also cover part time working, term time only working, school hour working days and job sharing to name a few.


I set up my business after struggling to find a flexible role, after I was made redundant when pregnant. From my own research, I found that generally HR roles are flexible for those who are returning from maternity leave. Flexibility for new roles though? No, that doesn’t seem to happen, even in the world of HR.

Flexible roles are like gold dust – when they do finally come up there is a lot of competition for them. Why not open such sought after roles, which highly skilled women (and men) are just waiting to go into?

Opening such roles not only demonstrate being a good employer who is willing to go that extra mile but it also enables the business to find some of the talent that is currently unused, create a competitive edge (internally and externally), increases diversity and also adds to the general economy.

More than 2/3rds of mothers would go back to work with flexible working. 2.6 million mothers are not currently working, which is currently compromising a whole host of skills/ experience. CIPD People Management, October 2016.

Continuing desire for a more flexible lifestyle surely means it’s only a matter of time before another legal change is bought in. Whether that is stricter legislation, changes around the appeal for flexible working requests (which are currently not statutory), or ensuring your business is flex friendly.

Why don’t you see how you can implement this alternative way of working and blaze a trail for flexible working in the UK. Change can always be tricky to implement, but its nearly always rewarding. Don’t have the time on where to start or know how? Then let us help you… HR Puzzle, the missing piece in your business.

Flexible working – not just for the “with kid”

Don’t have a kid but want to know if you can work flexibly? Read on…

kid on a swing

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

This used to be only for those who are parents but this all changed in 2014. Legally anyone with more than 26 weeks’ continuous service can now apply for flexible working. It isn’t just for mothers, parents or carers of little ones, in today’s society its now something most people would like to benefit from it.

Millennials – those who want a better work life balance, those who recognise the importance of social media/ technology in today’s world, go for it. Online presence is so big at the moment, blogging, vlogging, being a foodie, and crafting are just a few hobbies that people want to be able to have time to dedicate to. 24/7 availability of products and services means people don’t simply want to work a 9-5. A bit like the Beyoncé song Haunted “There’s people on this planet just working 9-5 to stay alive – how come?” – How come indeed! You have the right to apply for flexible working, get out of the 9-5.

Most good companies will have a flexible working policy, but most of them I have seen (and being a HR consultant, with over 10 years’ experience – I’ve seen a lot) are nothing more than a “best practice” document. Yes, we have one, yes we will consider applications for flexible working but no we won’t promote this. Do you know you can actually ask for an informal flexible working agreement? You don’t always have to put in a full application.

Our working week as most of us know it runs from Monday through to Friday but this wasn’t always the case – back in the early 1900’s at the turn of the century the workers were fighting against factory owners to be allowed to have off Saturday afternoons and Sundays, even back then time away from the day job was under an agreement from the employer. Isn’t it madness that we still have to agree it when flexible working could easily be incorporated from the recruitment stage?

Opening such flexible roles not only promote being a good employer who is willing to go that extra mile but also opens up the opportunity to find some of that talent that is currently unused, create a competitive edge (internally and externally), increases diversity, but also adds to the general economy.

Asking to work flexibly isn’t just for those who would like to work part time either. It can be as little a change as asking to come in at 9.30am once a week. Or perhaps asking to come in early other days in order to leave at 2pm on a Friday afternoon. Did you know even asking to work from home one day a week can be classed as wanting flexible working.

We have so much flexibility on how we choose to spend our spare time, now is the time to have a go at getting employers to realise flexible working is for everyone and anyone. The more people who request this, the more it should be driven into a company’s culture and ultimately a societal norm – one day it should be a given that one’s work life balance is in your own hands and not a case of applying for flexible working.

Feel free to check out my website and I’m on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram if you want to get in touch.

Are mums being a denied a right to flexible working?

woman looking upset


Did you know more than 2/3rd’s of mothers would go back to work if flexible working was an option to them? A recent article in the CIPD People Management Magazine, from October 2016 states “2.6 million mothers are not currently working, which is currently compromising a whole host of skills/ experience.”

I personally wasn’t left with any other option but to set up my own business after struggling to find a flexible role. I didn’t want to return to work full time while my little girl was so small, and I was even rejected for a lower level role for being over qualified. See I was made redundant when I was pregnant and couldn’t find a suitable role to return to at the end of maternity leave. I was lucky enough to be in a position to set up my own business, but this isn’t an option for everyone.

Flexible roles are like gold dust. When they do come up there is a lot of competition for them. Why do businesses not open such sought after roles, roles that highly skilled mothers are just waiting to go into?

Why not allow those with some brilliant skills, many of which have great careers before taking time out to raise a family, to be part of your businesses? Not only that but there are a lot of mothers who are able to gain flexible working when returning from maternity leave, who would like to take other positions, some even promotions. However, this group feel held within their existing role because the flexibility they’ve secured won’t move with them, it won’t be an option in another role.

The issue starts really with the recruitment of these roles, how often do you see one of the big recruiters actually advertising a role as “flexible”? These roles don’t necessarily have to be part time. For example, just opening up a degree of flexibility such as offering to work from home one day a week or the option to come in at 9.30am instead of 8am two days a week, so a mother might drop her child at school those days is enough to open up interest from this huge talent pool.

Opening such roles does not only promote being a good employer who is willing to go that extra mile but also enables a way to find some of that talent that is currently unused. It can help your organisation to create a competitive edge (internally and externally), increase diversity, but also adds to the general economy.

To help support this I am offering a service as a flexible working consultant. We aim to help businesses through training, advice and support to take on more flexible roles and how to make full use of their existing family policies for all and especially for mothers, because being a parent is hard enough as it is!

HR Puzzle, the missing piece in your business.

Author Anna Ives MCIPD – Director HR Puzzle


How flexible working can work in reality- an interview with “This Is Mothership”

This is flexible working

*Photo taken from ThisisMothership

We are lucky enough to have a quick email with Gemma Rose Breger from the super mama glam-  This is Mothership website, she also got Samantha Silver involved to. Take a look at their Instagram if you haven’t already and you will be in with a treat. Not only are these two mothers but they also have fabulous jobs and somehow manage to fit in This is Mothership. We got to ask them how to they work flexibility around work and children.

“Gemma is one of the most in-demand fashion and celebrity stylists in London. Sam is an award-winning beauty journalist and the beauty director at Stylist magazine while with nearly two decades of experience between them working on national newspapers, magazines and on television, for brands including Net a Porter, Marks & Spencer, The X Factor and Revlon.” This is Mothership

Please tell us a little bit about yourselves, how old your children are and what you do for work/ with your spare time (if any!).

I’m Gemma. I’m a freelance fashion & celebrity stylist and I have a daughter called Belle who is almost 2. I run This Is Mothership with Sam who is the beauty director at Stylist magazine. She has an almost 2 year old son called Leo.

How did you make the decision to return to work?

It wasn’t really ever an option for either of us to not return. We are both passionate about our jobs, and needed an escape from being mums so that we felt more sane (and could have time to eat lunch and pee alone once in a while!)

Any tips for mums on maternity leave wanting to return to work?

Go for it, at the beginning it is SO hard but we promise you it gets easier and easier as the days and weeks go on. Once you are into your new routine you will love it. We believe that it’s really healthy to have a balance of mum and work.

How long did you have off for maternity leave and what made you choose that amount of time?

I went back to work when Belle was 6 weeks old. I ended up pumping my almost exploding boobs on a photo shoot and almost had a breakdown (hormones eh!) and realised that I needed more time off. Sam went back when Leo was 11  months old.

How does your childcare care work?

We both have the kids in nursery, Belle is there 2 days a week, Leo is there 3 days and then we have family help out with the rest.

How do you make flexible working work for yourselves?  (ie mix of childcare, partners, work place was supportive)

We’re not going to lie, it’s a struggle. But once we found the balance and got used to the new routine it became much easier.

What does your working week look like? (How do you work it around the kids)

Sam works at the magazine Tuesday to Friday, and Gemma does styling Monday to Wednesday. We do Mothership in the evenings and at weekends.

How do you fit it all in, work, kids, husbands and This is Mothership!?

 We must say ‘we need more hours in the day’ about 400 times a week!! At the beginning, it was really hard but as the time has gone on we’ve worked out a better balance. Sometimes we have weeks when we are really organised and everything is scheduled, other times we have weeks when we are Whats Apping from 6.30am until 11pm trying to work out what we are doing and how we are going to have time to fit it in!!



Hello and welcome!

So I guess I better get started by telling you a little about myself and why I have found myself in the world of blogging!

My name is Anna Ives, I’m 33 years old and I live with my husband and daughter in a little village in Hertfordshire, England. That sounds weird as who’s going to want to read this outside of the UK, umm you never know, hence why I’m writing this. Sorry I am digressing. Where was I… Yes, I was saying why I have set up this page.

I had the misfortune or now shall I say fortune of being made redundant when I was pregnant. Yes, that is right pregnant and screwed!

After I got over the initial shock and took on a few roles to tie me over until my little girl was born in December 2015. After about 9 maternity leave, I decided to find a new role, but I struggled to find a role that was flexible or part time.

To cut a long story short I then decided after 10 years’ experience of working in HR to set up my own company HR-Puzzle, which means I can work around my little one.

Initially I didn’t want to start a blog, I thought why would I want to give business away for free, surely people will want to pay me for that! Little did I know then!

So here I am setting up my very own blogging space!! Here you will find a mix of blogs, articles and my opinions ( and a little of the in-between) please come and say hello.

I would love to hear from you, if you have any questions, ideas for my pages or if you want me to write something for you then drop me a message!