Flexible Working

Flexible Working

Flexible working: What the law says

The Flexible Working Regulations were amended in 2014, extending the right to request flexible working to cover all employees, rather than only those with children under the age of 17 (or 18 for disabled children).

Every employee now has the right to request flexible working after a 26 week period of employment service. The request can cover hours of work, times of work, and place of work, and may include requests for different patterns of work. Any change granted under the right to request flexible working is usually permanent, but temporary changes may be negotiated. An employee can only make a statutory request once in any 12 month period.

A request from an employee must include the following information:

  • The date of their application, the change to working conditions they are seeking and when they would like the change to come into effect.
  • What effect, if any, they think the requested change would have on you as the employer and how, in their opinion, any such effect might be dealt with.
  • A statement that this is a statutory request, and if and when they have made a previous application for flexible working.

You should make clear to your employees what information they need to include in a written request to work flexibly.

Dealing with a request for flexible working

Once you have received a written request for flexible working, you must consider it. You should arrange a meeting with your employee as soon as possible after receiving their request. If you intend to approve the request then a meeting is not needed. The employee can be accompanied at meetings by a work colleague, and has the right to appeal any decision.

Employers should discuss with the employee the type of flexible working preferred by them, and which arrangements are most workable.

Employers must seriously consider an application, but are not obliged to agree if sound business reasons can be proven, in line with the current legislation. These are:

• 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 do refuse, the refusal should include the relevant and accurate facts, and employees should be given the right to appeal.

All requests, including any appeals, must be considered and decided on within three months of first receipt, unless you agree to extend this period with the employee.

If you arrange a meeting to discuss the application including any appeal and the employee fails to attend both this and a rearranged meeting without a good reason, you can consider the request withdrawn. If you do so, you must inform the employee.

Acas have produced a guide to dealing with requests for flexible working.

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