Flexible working for your employees can be a win-win situation: you get to keep valued members of the team and they get a better work/life balance. 

Find out what the law says and what you must do if your employee requests flexible working. 

This blog post covers:


What the law says 

All your salon or barbershop employees will have the legal right to request flexible working as long as they have worked for you for at least 26 weeks. This right is set out in the Employment Rights Act 1996. 

Strictly speaking, your employees can make only one flexible working application per year. However, you can consider a second application in the same year if you wish to. 

Find out what legal rights your salon and barbershop employees have.

Types of flexible working 

There are a few different types of flexible working. For example, it can include job-sharing or part-time working.

How does your salon or barbershop employee apply? 

Your employee will usually fill out a form explaining:

• The type of flexible working they would like to do.
• When they would like the flexible working to start.
• If this involves a change in the number of hours or days worked.
• How this might affect their work and what steps can be taken to deal with this.

Your employee does not have to use a form. They can write a letter or send an email instead, but they should include all the required information. 

NHF/NBF Members can download a free in-depth fact sheet about flexible working which includes an application form for use by your employees. 


Find out how to reward your salon or barbershop team for long-term success.


Considering your employee’s request

You will have up to three months to consider your employee’s request for flexible working (or longer if agreed with the employee). 

You must deal with the request in a ‘reasonable manner’. 

Acting in a reasonable manner 

Make sure you can demonstrate that you are acting in a ‘reasonable manner’ throughout the process.  

Examples of acting in a ‘reasonable manner’ include dealing with the request promptly and keeping your employee informed.

Remember – you could be taken to an employment tribunal if you do not act in a ‘reasonable manner’ when dealing with a request for flexible working.  


Salon owner

Agreeing to flexible working

Tell your employee and confirm your agreement in writing. Include full details of the new flexible working arrangements so there are no misunderstandings. 

If the new flexible working arrangements mean that your employee will be working fewer hours or that other terms and conditions are changed, you will need to update their employment contract within 28 days.


Members can download free employee contracts and employee handbooks. NHF/NBF contracts specify an initial probationary period of three months which can be extended to six months if necessary. Become an NHF/NBF Member today.


Refusing a request for flexible working 

You can refuse an application for flexible working, but you must have a ‘good business reason’ to do so. These ‘good reasons’ are specified in the legislation and include, for example:

• The additional costs involved would be too much for your business to cope with.
• There would be a detrimental effect on the quality of service you provide.
• You don’t have enough work for the periods when your employee wants to be in.

You must tell your employee that you have rejected their application and explain why.

Hair salon owner

Can my employee appeal if I refuse?

Your employee has no legal right of appeal. However, it’s best practice to offer an appeals process as this will help to demonstrate that you are dealing with your employee’s request in a ‘reasonable manner’. Follow your usual procedures for solving a workplace dispute.


Free legal helpline

NHF/NBF Members have access to a free 24/7 legal helpline for in-depth employment advice. Find out more about legal benefits for Members:

Hair salons and barbershops

Beauty salons  



• Flexible working can be ‘win-win’ for your business and your employee.
• Your employees can apply for flexible working if they have worked for you for 26 weeks.
• You must deal with a request from your employee in a ‘reasonable manner’ and within three months.
• If you agree, confirm the details in writing.
• If their terms and conditions change, issue a new contract within 28 days.
• You can only refuse the application if you have a good business reason for doing so.
• Your employee can go to an employment tribunal in certain circumstances, including if you do not respond in a ‘reasonable manner’.
• Allow your employee to appeal against a refusal – this will help to show you are acting in a reasonable manner. 

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