Flexible Working

It used to be the case that only employees with parental and or caring responsibilities could apply for flexible working.  However the law changed in 2014 and now all employees (with at least 26 weeks' service) have the right to request flexible working for whatever reason. This could cover situations such as wanting to achieve a better work life balance or to enable you to study and return to college or university.  

If you make such a request, your employer has a legal duty to give consdieration your application in a reasonable manner and only reject it if there are good business reasons for doing so. 

Examples of different types of flexible working include:

  • part-time work
  • flexi time, that is choosing which hours to work
  • compressed hours, that is working agreed hours over fewer days
  • job sharing
  • working from home
  • time off in lieu
  • term-time working

To be eligible to make a statutory flexible working request, you must:

  • be an employee - agency workers do not qualify
  • have worked for your employer continuously for at least 26 weeks on the date you make your request
  • not have made another statutory request during the past 12 months

The right is not a right to flexible working but only the right to request it. 

If you have the statutory right to apply, then there is a procedure that must be followed by both you and your employer. The law requires this process to be completed within 3 months of your making the request.  Your employer must consider your request objectively and can only reject it if there are business reasons (as set out in legislation) for doing so. These are:-

  • additional costs;
  • ability to meet customer demand (ie: you want Friday's off and Friday's is your employer's busiest day);
  • inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff;
  • inability to recruit staff;
  • detrimental impact on quality;
  • detrimental impact on performance;
  • insufficient work in the time proposed;and
  • a planned reorganisation.

Once you have agreed to a flexible working arrangement, this may be regarded as a permanent change to your contract of employment which can affect your pay. Although some employers may first want to try out the flexible working for a trial period.

If your employer has refused your flexible working request then you can appeal the decision.  If the appeal, is also rejected, then an employee can apply to the employment tribunal on the basis that the employer has failed to properly deal with your application.  It is not however within the employment tribunal's power to make an order forcing your employer to grant your application for flexible working.  Rather, if your application to the employment tribunal is successful it can result in a order that your employer reconsider your flexible working application and/or may award compensation of up to 8 weeks' pay.

If you have a query about flexible working, or you simply want more information about your rights, Ashby Cohen can help you. Please contact us for an initial free telephone consultation.

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