Flexible Working Solicitors for Employees & Executives

If you have suffered a trauma in your life, have childcare needs, need to look after an elderly person, or simply want to reduce or change the way you work, you may be able to apply to your employer to work flexibly.

100% Success Rate in Contentious Cases for both Employees & Employers

Contact our employment lawyers on 0207 965 7203

or contact us online.

What is flexible working?

Flexible working is a statutory right you are entitled to if you have been working for the same employer for more than 26 weeks. There are many reasons you might request flexitime, whether you’re returning from maternity leave and still need to look after your child, a new carer looking after an elderly parent, or simply want to improve your work-life balance.

Who can request flexible working?

To be eligible for the statutory right to flexible working, the following criteria must apply:

  • A statutory request can only be made by an employee and is not applicable to agency workers, self-employed contractors, or consultants, section 80F(8), ERA 1996.
  • The employee must have 26 weeks' continuous employment at the date the request is made, Regulation 3.
  • Only one request may be made under the statutory scheme in any 12-month period, section 80F(4), ERA 1996. While the employer will not be obliged to follow the statutory procedure in response to an informal request, a refusal without appropriate consideration could give rise to claims outside the statutory flexible working scheme, for example, a discrimination claim.

Changes to your employment terms

If you are eligible for flexible working, may request a change to your employment terms if the change relates to:

  • A change to your working hours
  • A change to the times required to work.
  • A change to the place of work (as between your home and any of the employer's workplaces).

As an employee, you can apply for many types of flexible working you are entitled to, including:

  • Hours-based: Annualised hours, compressed hours (whilst working fewer days), Flexi-time, Self-rostering
  • Time-based: Part-time working, Full-time working (if currently part-time), Staggered hours, Term-time working
  • Shift-working
  • Homeworking
  • Job-sharing

In fact, there are very few limits as to the flexible working arrangements you can request.

If you are requesting a temporary change, you will need to state the desired duration of the change. When looking for an informal change for a short period, the original terms may be reverted back to at the end of a fixed period or after a specified event.

Requesting Flexitime

How do I request flexible working?

To request flexible working, your formal application must be in writing, be dated and state that it is an application made under the statutory procedure. You should be precise, stating the following:

  • Your desired change and when you wish the change to take effect.
  • Your reasons for requesting flexible working, alongside suggesting how they can accommodate it.
  • If you have previously made an application to your employer and, if so, when.

How should my employer deal with a request?

An employer who receives a flexible working request under the statutory scheme must:

  1. Notify the employee of its decision within the prescribed decision period.
  2. Have a reasonable discussion with the employee
  3. Only refuse a request on one or more of the following grounds – see below

The employer will do either of the following:

  1. Accept the request or confirm a partial agreement agreed upon during the discussion.
  2. Reject the request either because the employee is not eligible to make a request or for one or more of the applicable business reasons.

Dealing with several requests at the same time

Your employer may receive requests for flexible working from more than one employee at the same time.

They must maintain a consistent approach to dealing with individual requests when they receive more than one at the same time, considering all requests as equal and in a “reasonable manner”,

Consideration must be given to issues such as, caring obligations or accommodating a disability, that attract extra protection.

Waiting for a decision

The Decision Period

The decision period lasts three months, starting on the date the request was made; such a long period as the parties may agree, Section 80G(1B), ERA 1996. Within this decision period, your employer must notify you of the decision on any appeal.

In any particular case, an agreement to extend the decision period may be made either:

  • Before the original decision period ends.
  • With retrospective effect, within the three months beginning with the day after that on which the original decision period came to an end.

Trial periods

Although not a statutory requirement, a sensible approach by an employer would be to offer a trial period to take a request forward rather than an outright rejection. In the case of a rejection, an employer should be ready to explain the reason for that decision.

Reaching agreement and granting the request

The new work pattern will be a contractual variation to the employee's employment and will be permanent unless otherwise agreed that it is a temporary change. This can be done by issuing a new contract or a confirmation letter to be signed by the employee.

Denied request for flexible working

What if my flexible working request is denied?

Your employer may have business reasons as to why they cannot accommodate your flexible working request. The provisions provide for eight specific grounds on which your request may be rejected:

  1. The burden of additional costs.
  2. Detrimental effect on the ability to meet customer demand.
  3. Inability to reorganise work among existing staff.
  4. Inability to recruit additional staff.
  5. Detrimental impact on quality.
  6. Detrimental impact on performance.
  7. Insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work such as seasonal work.
  8. Planned structural changes.

How can I appeal the decision?

The legislation does not expressly require an employer to allow an employee to appeal against the rejection of their flexible working request. However, the ACAS Code suggests that employees should be allowed to do so:

"If you reject the request you should allow your employee to appeal the decision. It can be helpful to allow an employee to speak with you about your decision as this may reveal new information or an omission in following a reasonable procedure when considering the application." (Paragraph 12.)

If possible, the appeal should be heard by someone who was not previously involved in the process, paragraph 26 of the ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. This is not always necessary, nor possible for many small businesses."

Remedies for denial of flexible working

Where a tribunal finds a claim well founded, it must make a declaration to that effect and may make either or both of:

  • An order for reconsideration of the request. If it does this the date of the tribunal's order will be treated as the date of the request.
  • An award of compensation to be paid by the employer to the employee, of such amount as the tribunal considers just and equitable, up to the permitted maximum.

The maximum amount of compensation is eight weeks' pay.

Contact Us Today For Flexible Working Legal & Procedural Advice

If you’re based in London and have been wrongfully denied flexible working, we can help you win a settlement agreement worth up to eight weeks’ pay. We have a team of expert employment lawyers on-hand to provide legal advice and support wherever needed.

As employment law solicitors, we have a strong track record of winning contentious cases for high-level employees and executives. Don’t hesitate to pick up the phone for us, get in touch with us today and one of our team will be able to see you in person within hours of your call.

Contact our employment lawyers on 0207 965 7203
or contact us online.

100% Success Rate in Contentious Cases for both Employees & Employers

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