The Working Carers Gateway is a champion for workplace flexibility.

Flexible work – here are some interesting options

The Working Carers Gateway is a champion of workplace flexibility.

We write about it every issue and see it as the natural way for every worker – not just working carers – to have the opportunity to create a healthy work-life balance.

But carers often want to know what flexible options might apply to their particular job. What kind of flexibility is reasonable to ask for?

The following table developed from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency is a glossary of some of the most common existing forms of flexible working. The options can be undertaken either on their own or in combinations.

Advance notice

Employees are given notice of regular work schedules and of schedule changes (e.g. one month in advance – so appointments can be confidently scheduled ahead of time).

Adjusted shifts

Modifying the start, stop and break times for shifts to align with common employee schedule requests (e.g. pick up from respite or day care centre; school drop off and pick up).

Break flexibility

Employee input into break arrangements, including employees arranging break ‘trades’ and informing their managers (e.g. not taking a lunch break and leaving an hour early).

Compressed working weeks

An employee works the same number of weekly (or fortnightly or monthly) hours, compressed into a shorter period (e.g. a forty-hour week worked at the rate of ten hours per day over four days instead of eight hours a day for five days). Changes to salary are not required.

Cross-trained relief pool

A pool of employees who have been trained to undertake multiple types of work/positions, to assist with covering time off and so minimising overtime costs to the organisation.

Flexible careers

Employees can enter, exit and re-enter employment with the same organisation, or increase or decrease their workload or career pace to suit different life stages (e.g. transitioning to retirement; early career ‘gap years’; sabbaticals; carer duties with an elderly parent).

Flexible hours

Varying start and finish times.

‘Floating’ staff

Employees who are on-site and act as backup to cover breaks/fill in as needed.

Guaranteed shifts

Employees have certain guaranteed shifts or guaranteed days, even if the entire week is not guaranteed.

Incremental reductions

Employees work a percentage of full-time for the same percentage of wages and benefits.

Job sharing

A full-time job role is divided into multiple job roles to be done by two or more employees who are paid pro-rata for the part of the job each completes.

Multiple locations

Allowing employees to work at multiple employer locations if their usual amount of work hours cannot be met at just one location (especially if they have financial obligations such as rent or mortgage that must be met and there is no extra work available at their primary location.) Also, on a completely different tack, another company location may be more convenient for them for whatever reason – better transport route/closer to home/closer to day care centre.

Part-time work

A regular work pattern where employees work less than full-time and are paid on a pro-rata basis. Not all part-time work is necessarily flexible, but it can offer flexibility to employees who have commitments that are not compatible with full-time work, such as being a carer.

Purchased leave

A period of additional leave (without pay) where an employer deducts the amount of unpaid leave from the worker’s salary, usually averaged over the year.


An employee proposes what times they would like to work and the times they would prefer not to work. Rosters are then formed that match individual preferences as closely as possible while still maintaining agreed levels of cover.

Shift swapping

Employees arrange shift ‘trades’ and inform their managers.

Split shifts

Employees separate their shifts into two or more sections with breaks in between.

Team-led scheduling

The team suggests scheduling solutions to managers for their approval, rather than asking the manager to resolve the scheduling issue.


Working at a location other than the official place of work. Includes a variety of terms including ‘remote working’, ‘mobile working’, ‘distributed work’, ‘virtual teams’ and ‘telework’.


An employee works approved overtime and is compensated by time-in-lieu. It can include ‘flexitime’ arrangements where an employee can work extra time over several days or weeks and then reclaim those hours as time off.

Unplanned leave

Informal access to leave for unanticipated or unplanned events.

Vacation increments

Employees access vacation leave in half day increments.

Variable part-year schedules

Employees work a reduced schedule during slow periods and full-time the rest of the year.

Source: Adapted from Workplace Gender Equality Agency, 2015, Briefing Note: About Workplace Flexibility.