By law, you have the right to make a flexible working request if:
- You have worked for your employer for a minimum of 26 weeks’ continuous employment
- You are legally classed as an employee
- You have not made any other flexible working request in the last 12 months.
It is important to note that the legal right is for an employee to make a request to their employer and to have that request properly considered, not to insist that their employer makes the changes requested.
Whilst the right to make a flexible working request is only available to employees with the necessary service, some employers will allow you to make a request even if you do not have the legal right. It is important to check your workplace’s policy.
Flexible working requests could include:
- Reducing your hours to work part-time
- Changing your start and finish time
- Having flexibility with your start and finish time (flexitime)
- Doing your hours over fewer days (compressed hours)
- Working from home or elsewhere (remote working)
- Sharing the job with someone else
The changes could be for all working days, specific days or for a limited time period eg. 6 months only.
Under the Employment Rights Act 1996, you must include the following information:
- The date of your application, the changes you would like to make, and when you would like the change to come into effect
- What impact, if any, you think the requested change would have on their employer and how that could be dealt with in practice.
You may also like to include any benefits the change could have for your employer eg. doing shift times that others prefer not to do)
A statement that this is a statutory request and if and when they have made a previous application for flexible working.
What happens once you have submitted your request?
Once your request is submitted, your employer is legally required to consider your application fairly and in line with the ACAS Code of Practice.
Your employer should arrange to talk with you as soon as possible after receiving the request to get a better idea of what changes you are looking for and how they might benefit the business and you. Your employer may arrange to set up a meeting to discuss the request and you can ask to bring someone along such as a colleague or trade union representative.
Your employer must make a decision within a maximum of 3 months of you making your request unless an extension is agreed with you. We would recommend you ask for the decision in writing.
Next steps if your request is approved
If your request is approved, this will usually change the terms and conditions of your employment contract.
The approved request should be in writing and should set out:
- The agreed change to your working pattern
- The date the new working pattern will start
- The length of time it will last
- A date for reviewing the change
The law requires that if your working hours, pay, job location and/or holiday entitlement has changed, this should be put in writing within a month of the change coming into effect.
What are your options if your request is rejected?
If your request is rejected, the grounds for such rejection should be set out clearly.
An employer may only refuse a request for one of the following business reasons as set out in the legislation:
- The burden of additional costs
- An inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff
- An inability to recruit additional staff
- A detrimental impact on quality
- A detrimental impact on performance
- A detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
- Insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work
- A planned structural change to your business
If you feel the decision is wrong, unfair or not dealt with reasonably, try to talk with your employer to listen to their reasons and see if there are any compromises that could be made.
It may be necessary to lodge an appeal which should be in writing and state why you feel the request should be considered again (there may be new information which might affect the decision) and what you would like to happen next.
How long does an appeal take?
If your employer decides to consider your appeal, this should be dealt with and responded to as quickly as possible. Your employer must consider the whole request (including any appeal) within a maximum of 3 months of the date of the original request but this can be extended if both you and the employer agree.
Making a formal complaint
You can raise a formal complaint with your employer (grievance). If the matter then continues to not be resolved, you may be able to make a claim to an Employment Tribunal.
If you feel your employer has treated you unfairly or has dismissed you because of a flexible working request, please contact our employment solicitor, Lisa Aitken to discuss your situation on 01926 491181 or email: LisaA@moore-tibbits.co.uk.