All employees have the right to request flexible working and if they make such a request, you, as their employer, have a legal duty to give it serious consideration and only reject it if there are good business reasons for doing so.
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.
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, the person making the request must:
- be an employee - agency workers do not qualify
- have worked for you continuously for at least 26 weeks on the date they make their request
- not have made another statutory request during the past 12 months
For an employer, it is useful to know that 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 employee's contract of employment which can affect your pay. You may wish to try out the new arrangement on a trial basis first to see if it suits both parties.
If you have a query about flexible working, or you simply want more information about your employee’s rights, Ashby Cohen can help you. We specialise in employment law cases, and our years of experience as employment lawyers make us especially qualified to assist you with any flexible working issues you may have. Please contact us for an initial free telephone consultation.
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