In many employment sectors, there is a flexible approach to work with a variety of working patterns available to suit both the company or organisation and the employee. 

Click on the links below to be taken to the different options of work.

This is a very traditional work pattern of Monday - Friday 9.00am - 5.00pm with a lunch break in the middle. Although it is still part of many people's working life, there are many jobs with a more flexible working pattern.

Many employees work flexible hours. This could be in a flexi-time system where there is a number of hours in a standard working week which can be worked as longer or shorter days to fit around other commitments. Other flexible work patterns may include working from home or working flexibly to fit around school holidays etc.

We live in a 24-7 society which means that some businesses and organisations must work around the clock. They do this by using shift patterns. For example, a nurse may work early, late or night shift which enables a hospital to provide care all the time. In some larger industries shift patterns keep production going 24 hours a day as it can be very expensive to stop and start machinery.

Working for an agency can be a good short-term option or a way to work flexibly. When you sign on with an agency they become your employer. If they get you work, you will be paid by the agency, however, they will also be paid a fee by the place where you are working. Agency work is a way for companies and organisations to deal with short-term staff shortages or additional work. It also gives them a chance to see your work and they may decide to hire you permanently.

Freelance workers often have very specialist knowledge in a particular type of work. They either produce their work and sell it themselves or act as consultants for short periods to less experienced staff. You will find that you manage your own time accordingly when working as a freelancer, setting your own deadlines.

Setting up your own business or becoming self-employed can be hard work. You will be responsible for your own tax and national insurance payments as well as ensuring that you make enough money to pay your bills. The advantages are you have the ability to set up your own business targets and develop your ideas. The disadvantages are having to work really hard to establish yourself, being responsible for the business and having no support if times are tough.

Working from home is not illegal as long as the work is safe and does not cause a nuisance. Home workers should not be expected to work longer than 48 hours in an average working week. The sort of work includes:

  • sewing - mainly clothing
  • packing - anything from tights and safety pins to toys
  • toy making
  • typing or word processing
  • routine clerical work - stuffing envelopes etc


Although there are genuine jobs for people who want to work from home, if an advert asks you to send money in advance it is likely to be fake! The national minimum wage applies to all workers including home workers and you may be able to work at home and still claim benefits if you are low paid. For example:

  • disabled persons tax credit
  • working families tax credit
  • invalidity care allowance


You may also be able to claim sick pay, statutory maternity pay and unemployment benefit if you have paid national insurance contributions.

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