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Introduction to this document

Trial flexible working arrangement letter

When you receive a flexible working application, you may wish to test it out on a trial basis to see whether it can be accommodated within the business or not. Use our letter to put a trial flexible working arrangement in place.

Trial run

Its acceptable under the flexible working provisions for you to agree flexible working arrangements for a trial (i.e. temporary) period, particularly where, for example, you’re unsure whether the arrangements requested are sustainable in the business or you’re worried about what the impact will be on other employees. Indeed, the Acas Code of Practice on Handling in a Reasonable Manner Requests to Work Flexibly envisages that this might be a suitable compromise in this scenario. So if you receive an application but don’t want to commit yourself to a permanent flexible working arrangement until you’ve seen how well it works in practice, you could suggest a trial run, e.g. for four or eight weeks. It’s better not to have a trial for longer than three months as it’s only meant to be for a short period to enable you to make a practical assessment of its viability. A trial also gives the employee an opportunity to test their proposal out. After that, you can decide whether or not it’s suitable for your business. If it hasn’t worked out, you would then have every right to insist that the employee reverts back to their original contracted hours at the end of the trial period. Alternatively, should you and the employee both wish to make the arrangement permanent, this can then be put in place.

Trial letter

Our Trial Flexible Working Arrangement Letter sets out that you are willing to trial the employee’s flexible working request on a temporary basis and confirms the trial arrangements, including start and end dates, the new working pattern during the trial period, any temporary changes that need to be made to other terms and conditions of employment, e.g. salary, during the trial and the scheduling of a review meeting prior to the end of the trial period so that you can jointly discuss how the arrangement has worked out. It’s important not to overlook the need for a formal review of the arrangement some time before the trial period comes to an end. Our letter also discusses what will happen in the event that the trial period is either successful or unsuccessful from either party’s perspective. Always get the employee to sign a duplicate copy of the letter. That way, they can’t argue at a later date that they didn’t know the arrangement was only a trial for a temporary period. Finally, use it in conjunction with our Extension of Flexible Working Decision Period letter as you’re effectively deferring your final decision on their flexible working application until the end of the trial period.