Flexible work contracts

When applying for a job be sure to know the type of work contract you are applying for. Often contracts can be negotiable, and the following information explains the different types of work contracts available in the UK.


Part-time work

  • this involves working fewer hours than would be considered full time. There is no particular number of hours that make someone part time or full time, but a part-time worker will usually work less than 35 hours a week.
  • Part-time work is often undertaken to free time for study, training or other responsibilities such as childcare, and the majority of part-time workers are women.


  • As the name suggests, Flexi-time offers employees some flexibility over the times that they work. Provided employees work core hours (often in the middle of the day or at the busiest times) they can make up their remaining hours as they choose.
  • Some organisations allow employees to take excess hours as additional leave (sometimes called ‘flexi-leave’), although normally employees are not allowed to accrue too many hours and commonly there is a limit of one to one and a half days per month.
  • Flexi-time is most common in office environments.

Compressed working hours

  • Compressed working hours involves working different patterns of hours on different days.
  • Commonly an employee will work longer hours over four days of the week and take a day off or half a day off one day of the week.
  • Unlike flexi-time, the pattern of hours is fixed and agreed in advance with the employer.

Term-time working

  • With term-time working an employee works regular hours during school terms but takes time off over school holidays.
  • This kind of work is common in educational environments and is often popular with parents of school-age children.

TOIL (time off in lieu)

  • Time off in lieu is where an employee takes time off to compensate for extra hours they have worked.
  • It is often offered by employers instead of paid overtime.
  • TOIL normally needs to be agreed with managers in advance.

Annualised hours

  • An annualised hours contract specifies the number of hours to be worked in one year. This pattern originally developed in industries with a seasonal work flow, such as manufacturing, but has extended into retailing, financial services, and health and emergency services.
  • Annualised hours contracts are normally (but not always) associated with shift work.
  •  In annualised hours a worker’s hours are calculated over a year. The majority of these hours are then allocated to specific shifts, but the remaining hours are kept in reserve so that workers can be called in at short notice as required.

Zero-hours contracts

  • Zero-hours contracts are where a worker is not guaranteed any work at all. Instead an employee agrees to work as and when they are needed by their employer.
  • Zero-hours contracts are common for supply teachers and bank staff in health and social care settings. This kind of work tends to appeal to people who are looking for an occasional income.

V-time working

  • V-time working involves a voluntary reduction in hours for a fixed period with the guarantee of a return to normal hours once the period ends.
  • V-time working may be initiated by the employee or the employer, and is normally agreed for specific purposes, e.g. undertaking a course of study or caring for a family member

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