More and more employers are realizing the positive effects of flexible work arrangements on business outcomes and employee satisfaction. Of course there are still some doubts and uncertainties remaining to be addressed, but within a wide selection of different forms of flexibility, every company can find a way to make the most out of flexible work.

Whether it be through flexitime schedules, compressed work weeks, job sharing, remote work or part-time work, not only the companies and economies can profit and grow, but we can all do our share in creating a healthier environment and employing happier and healthier employees.

Whole countries are beginning to recognize this. Some of them have already made it legal to request a flexible work arrangement.

Where in the world do employees have a legal right to request a flexible work arrangement?

The map of countries with legal right to request a flexible work arrangement

France The Netherlands
Germany The United Kingdom
Belgium New Zealand
Finland Australia
USA (San Francisco, Vermont, New Hampshire and federal government employees)

The laws in each country are a bit different, but what they all have in common is the employee’s ability to request a flexible work arrangement from their employer without negative consequences.

There are usually a few conditions for an employee to make the statutory application for a flexible work arrangement:

  • employee needs to file a written application, stating what kind of flexible arrangement they propose, starting when, how the arrangement might affect business and how this could be dealt with,
  • they have to be employed at the current company for at least a certain period of time,
  • they can only file one application in a certain time frame, usually within one year.

It should still be noted that in all cases, employers have the right to refuse any request for flexibility on business grounds, such as:

  • there will be extra costs that will damage the business
  • flexible arrangement will affect quality and performance
  • the work can’t be effectively reorganized among other staff
  • the business won’t be able to meet customer demand
  • there’s a lack of work during the proposed working times

However, the employer is obliged to review every request carefully and respond to it in writing in a certain period, usually no longer than in a month. In case the request is declined, the employer needs to state the reasons for their decision.

When both parties agree on the arrangement, an employer should write a statement of the agreed changes and accordingly change the employee’s work contract. They should also set a start date for the new arrangement and set the length of a trial period, if they agreed on it.

Please refer to the legislation of each of the countries to get exact information on requirements for a certain country.

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