Types of flexible working

Flexible working can mean different things to different people – from complete flexibility, day by day, through to a more rigid patterns of part-time or shift work. Be warned, if you’re after complete control you may be a little disappointed as the job often dictates what flexible working is available to you.

Types Of Flexible Working


Your contract will state the number of hours you must work, but you decide when you work them. If you don’t want to work the 9-5, you decide to work 11-7 instead or you decide when you take your lunch break. This can also give flexibility on a week basis, so you can do extra hours one week and then have a full day off the next, without affecting your holiday entitlement!

Allowing you to fit in work around your life, it’s ideal for people with busy lives, with families, or even if you’re looking to take things easy at work for awhile.

However, because it’s not always so good for the employer, a complete flexibility of hours like this is very rare. Many flexitime schemes now stipulate certain core hours when you should be in.

Compressed hours

“Compressed hours” contracts are a more restricted form of flexitime, allowing you to work your a weekly quota of hours in less than five days.

Obviously this means you’ll be starting earlier and leaving later on these days, so this is only successful in jobs where the working patterns of everyone else in the company allows it.

The benefit for staff is the extra day off each week, while employers can have the right amount of help at both peak and quiet working hours.

Part Time Working

The most familiar of flexible working patterns, part-time working has been a feature of certain jobs (teaching and nursing) for ages.

You work some of the days of the week, typically two or three days or half-days. The most important thing to remember about part-time work is your employment rights are exactly the same as if you were a full-time employee.

Staggered hours

This is particularly popular in the retail industry and similar “consumer-facing” jobs. “Staggered hours” simply means you’ll start and finish work in the same workplace completing a set number of hours, but at different times during the day.

Staff are usually hired like this to cover long opening hours for shops, bars and similar organisations – although it can put a lot of pressure on management as they end up having to maintain a complex matrix of who’s working when.


The shift system means you work a set number of shifts for a set number of hours. Popular with businesses where someone has to be working consistently (hospitals, police, factories etc), it allows employers to keep work going over a 24-hour period.

Although the shifts themselves tend to be rigid, there is still room for flexibility in negotiating how many you do per week, and at what times.

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