Flexible working means any working pattern that is different from your current one. Here at the Co-op we want to support colleagues who want to work flexibly wherever we can.

We recognise the benefits flexible working brings to colleagues and Co-op and we want to make sure colleagues have the right work-life balance.

Informal arrangements and Hybrid Working

For small changes to your working pattern, such as starting and finishing a bit earlier, or where you just want the change for a short period, we might be able to agree something informally, in which case you won’t need to make a formal flexible working request under this policy.

If a request can immediately be agreed, there is no requirement to hold a formal meeting. Agree a start date, confirm this in writing and make any changes needed on MyHR.

In addition, here at the Coop, for appropriate roles, we encourage Hybrid working which allows colleagues to mix home working with office working, as agreed with their manager. Please see our Hybrid Working Policy and FAQs for further details.

If however you are looking to permanently change either your work location (to home or elsewhere), your working pattern, or the hours you work , we may need to do things more formally as set out in this policy. The Flexible Working Process will help guide you through what you need to do.

Types of flexible working

There are lots of different types of formal flexible working. Below are some examples, but this list is not exhaustive.

  • Part time Working – this is where a colleague works less than the full-time hours for their role
  • Job-share - this is a formal arrangement where two colleagues share the responsibilities of one role receiving proportionate pay and benefits to the hours they each work. (see our Job Sharing Guide for more detail)
  • Compressed Hours - this is where a colleague compresses their regular normal week into fewer days

Flexible Working may also involve changing your usual start and end times of work, or your days of work.

Cruicial Bits

Making a request

We don’t believe in having restrictions around who can work flexibly, so everyone who works here can make a flexible working request. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve worked here or how many hours you work.

You can usually make a formal request every 12 months but if things change and you need to make another request, talk to your manager to see what can be arranged.

Dealing with a request

We need to deal with any formal flexible working requests within three months, but we’ll try to do it quicker than this wherever we can.

We’ll always treat requests fairly and do our best to say yes. We’ll only turn down a request once there’s been serious consideration of the request and for these genuine business reasons:

  • It would cost the business more
  • The quality of your or your team’s work would be likely to suffer
  • We wouldn’t be able to recruit an additional team member
  • It would have a negative impact on your or your team’s performance
  • It wouldn’t be possible to reorganise the work amongst the rest of the team
  • It would have a negative impact on the service we provide to our customers
  • There wouldn’t be enough work to do at the times you want to work
  • There’s an organisational change planned which will impact your role or your team

If we need to turn a request down, we will make sure we clearly explain why. If you really disagree with us then there’ll always be the opportunity to appeal the decision.

Things to think about

Conflicting requests

It’s important to understand that Flexible Working Requests will be considered in the order they are received. Every case will be given fair consideration and will be judged on its merits at the time.

Colleagues should be aware that where one or more colleagues within a team have already had flexible working agreed, the business context in which the second request is made will be different, so it may not be possible to accommodate it.

Care will be taken not to discriminate against colleagues because of any protected characteristic. We understand that flexible working may be a reasonable adjustment for a disabled colleague and such adjustments will be made under the Reasonable Adjustment Process, rather than the colleague needing to make a Flexible Working Request.

Home Working

It’s important to recognise that home working should not be used in lieu of childcare.

Before making a request

If you’re thinking of making a request it might be helpful to chat to your colleagues and your manager first to help understand if there are going to be any issues with what you’re looking to do, so you can think about ways round it or other options.

Flexible working meeting

Sometimes we might need to meet to discuss how the change could work, but not always. If we can agree the change without a meeting, we’ll quickly make that decision and send you a letter to confirm. If we think a meeting is needed, we’ll arrange this and then let you know our decision as soon as possible afterwards.

Trial periods

If we agree a flexible working arrangement, it might be useful to have a trial period at first to see how things work out. How long we’ll trial it for will depend on the type of change and we’ll be sure to review it at the end of the trial to agree whether or not it’s meeting everyone’s needs.

Impact on pay and benefits

Some flexible working arrangements may have an impact on your pay and benefits, including your pension, and also any state benefits or tax credits that you get. Contact your benefits provider and the Co-op Pensions Website (pacepensions.co.uk) to make sure you understand what could happen.

Co-op has partnered with Neyber who offer tips, tools and information to help manage money and can be contacted on 0800 820 3103 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm - calls are free) or email contactus@neyber.co.uk.

Lifeworks also offer telephone support and help with money issues as well as having lots of online resources and can be contacted on 0800 069 8854, via their app or by visiting https://colleagues.coop.co.uk/employee-assistance-programme

If you need further support

Please click on the link below to see manager FAQs for our flexible working policy.

If you have questions about flexible working which are not covered in the FAQs, please speak to your manager. The Flexible Working Process and the Flexible Working Formal Meeting Guide are available on the Colleague site. If managers need advice they can contact ER Services.

Remember we have an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) who can provide colleagues with support. You can contact the EAP on 0800 069 8854. It’s independent and totally confidential. And there’s no charge for Co-op colleagues.