Introduction to this document

Trial flexible working arrangement extension letter

If an employee has a trial flexible working arrangement in place, occasionally you may need to extend that trial period before you make your final decision on whether to confirm or revoke the flexible working arrangement.

Trial period

It’s acceptable under the flexible working provisions for you to agree flexible working arrangements for a temporary or trial period only. You might want to do this where you’re unsure whether the arrangements requested are workable for the business or you’re worried about what the impact will be on other staff and whether it will cause them difficulties in practice. So if you receive a flexible working application but don’t want to commit yourself to a permanent arrangement yet until you’ve seen how well it works in practice, you could suggest a trial run, e.g. for four or eight weeks - see our Trial Flexible Working Arrangement Letter. It’s better not to have a trial period that’s longer than three months because it’s only meant to be a short period to enable you to make a practical assessment of the flexible working arrangement’s viability. A trial also gives the employee an opportunity to test their proposals out.

Extension reasons

However, circumstances may sometimes arise where you need to extend the trial period before you feel that you’ll be in a position to make a final decision on whether the flexible working arrangement should be made permanent or not. These might include where the employee has been absent for a significant chunk of the trial period, e.g. on sick, paternity or parental leave, or where the original agreed trial period just wasn’t long enough in practice for you to make a proper assessment of the effects of the changed working pattern on the business. It could also include a case where you’ve given the employee feedback on how the trial period is working but you need to see them implement some changes, e.g. to their processes for keeping you appraised about what they’re up to in the case of homeworking, before you can decide whether to offer them permanent flexible working.

Extension letter

Our Trial Flexible Working Arrangement Extension Letter sets out that you’re willing to extend the trial of the employee’s flexible working request. It confirms the new end date and provides that the current temporary working pattern, and any current temporary changes to other terms and conditions of employment, will continue during the extended trial period. It also schedules a review meeting prior to the end of the extended 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 before the extended trial period comes to an end. Finally, our letter also discusses what will happen in the event that the trial period (and its extension) is either successful or unsuccessful from either party’s perspective. Ask the employee to sign a duplicate copy of the letter as evidence that they’ve agreed to the extension and understand that it’s still a temporary arrangement only.