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Flexible Working Requests

What is a flexible working request?

A formal, written request that places a duty on the employer to consider flexible working for any employee.

Who can make a request?

An employee who has worked for the employer continuously for 26 weeks and has not made an application to work flexibly during the previous 12 months.

What conditions must the employee satisfy?

Previously, in order to make an application for flexible working, an employee had to be the parent of a child aged under 17, or 18 if disabled, and have responsibility for the upbringing of the child. Now, any employee is entitled to make a request for flexible working.

What arrangements are covered?

An employee can apply to change their contractual terms of work in relation to hours, time of work and location (including working from home, flexi-time and job sharing).

What is the form of a flexible working application?

The signed and dated application must identify itself as such, specify the flexible working pattern applied for and when it would become effective, identify any effect on the business and how this might be dealt with, and state if and when a previous application has been made.

How should an employer respond to a flexible working application?

An employer must give detailed consideration to a request and, unless the employer agrees to the request at the outset, arrange a meeting with the employee (and any representative) within 28 days to discuss the proposed working pattern and where necessary any alternative working patterns.

How should an employer notify an employee of the outcome?

Within 14 days from the date of the meeting the employer should write either agreeing the request and confirming the date the contractual changes will begin, or reject the request giving a “sufficient explanation” and explaining the appeal procedure.

What are the grounds to reject an application?

An employer should have a business reason for rejecting a request, which may relate to (1) an inability to organise working arrangements, (2) planned changes to the workforce such as redundancy, (3) an adverse impact on performance, (4) the business will not be able to meet customer demand, (5) additional cost, (6) a lack of work to do during the proposed working times and (7) difficulties recruiting any additional staff that might be needed.

How should an employee appeal?

An employee must appeal in writing within 14 days setting out the grounds of appeal and dating the request.

How should an appeal be conducted?

The employer must hold an appeal hearing with the employee (and any representative) either within 14 days, or such later date as they agree. The outcome must be notified in writing within 14 days after the hearing.

What are the consequences of a failure to comply?

An employee can complain to an Employment Tribunal if the employer fails to follow the procedure, or rejects the application based on incorrect facts. The maximum compensation a Tribunal can award is 8 weeks’ pay, capped at the statutory maximum. A failure to allow (or a threat not to allow) a representative to participate is punishable by 2 weeks’ pay, capped at the statutory maximum. If the employee or representative are dismissed or subjected to a detriment as a result of this procedure, then this may give rise to an additional Tribunal claim.

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