Flexible working – a guide for employees

Common examples of flexible working include: working from home, part-time working, flexi-time, compressed hours, job sharing and shift working.

Right to request flexible working

Under previous rules, the right to request flexible working was limited to those with children under the age of 17 (or 18 if the child was disabled) and carers. On 30th June 2014, the right to request flexible working was extended to all employees with 26 weeks’ continuous employment.

As with the previous rules, the right to request remains just that, a right to request; an employer may refuse a request on the basis of 1 of 8 specific business grounds and an employee is limited to one request in any 12 month period.

However, an employer is under a duty to consider the request of an eligible employee (i.e. any employee with over 26 weeks’ continuous service) in a reasonable manner.

This will include reviewing the potential pros and cons of the proposal, holding a meeting to discuss the application and allowing the employee an opportunity to appeal.

The employer will need to conclude the process and notify the employee of the decision within 3 months of the date of the application.

Failure to comply with their obligations under the new rules could result in compensation of 8 weeks’ pay (subject to a statutory cap) but employers should also be mindful of the risk that, depending on the individual’s circumstances, a refusal could give rise to allegations of unlawful discrimination on the grounds of a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.

As employees are limited to one request in any 12 month period, it is important that any application for flexible working is well thought out to ensure that it not only contains the required information, but that it receives due consideration from the employer.

Legal advice for flexible working

If you would like assistance drafting your application for a right to request flexible working or if your employer has refused a flexible working request and you would like to discuss your options, call Tallents now on 01636 671881.