Flexible Working

Contract Signing Of An Employment Contract Close Up ShotSince 30 June 2014, if you have been employed by an organisation for at least 26 weeks, you have the legal right to request a flexible working arrangement that suits your needs. But, this is not the same as a right to flexible working and employers can refuse a request after considering it.

You should make a request for flexible working in writing and it should include:

  1. the date of your request
  2. the proposed changes to working conditions you are requesting
  3. when you would want the changes to come into effect
  4. what, in your view, would be the effect of any changes on the employer in their view, as well as mentioning what can be done to prevent or reduce the effect on the employer.
  5. a statement that the request is a statutory request and whether and when you have made a previous request for flexible working

As with your other employment rights, the employer should handle requests for flexible working without discriminating. You should make it clear in your original request if you are looking to change your working arrangements because of a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, for example, as a reasonable adjustment for a disability.

You can also request a temporary change in working hours or conditions, so you can pursue a short course of study. But, if this is approved, you will not be able to make a statutory right to request another change in contractual terms for a period of twelve months. Nevertheless, you can still ask without the statutory right, but the employer does not have to consider it.

When your employer has received the request for flexible working, they must consider it. Unless they decide not to approve the request at that stage, they should discuss the request with you as soon as possible. This can be done in a face-to-face meeting or over the phone, but it should be in private. The discussion or meeting should take place at a time that is convenient for you, your employer and also for anyone you would like to accompany you, such as a trade union representative or colleague.

Your employer must consider the benefits for you and their business and whether there is any adverse effect for the business granting your request for flexible working. Your employer has three months to respond to the request, unless they agree an extension with you in writing.

They can either:

  • approve the request and set a date and any other action
  • confirm an agreed compromise
  • reject the request, setting out the business reasons why
  • agree to a trial period, with a review meeting at a later date to discuss the changes and make amendments if necessary

You employer can reject your request for the following business reasons:

  • too expensive to implement
  • difficulty to reorganise work amongst existing staff
  • difficulty to recruit extra staff
  • negative impact on quality
  • negative effect on performance
  • negative effect on ability to meet customer demand
  • unsatisfactory work for the periods the employee proposes to work
  • planned structural change to the business

If your request for flexible working is rejected, you can appeal the decision, as a result you can talk over the decision with your employer, which may reveal new information. This may then result in the decision being reversed and your request being accepted. 

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