20th June 2016

Flexible working for all: a reminder

It is almost two years since the law was changed so all employees who have 26 weeks service have the right to request flexible working. There is a duty on employers to consider requests in a reasonable manner, supplemented by a statutory code of practice from Acas.

The impact of this on your business will depend on the size and nature of your business. But since all businesses can be affected, set out below is a helpful reminder of the process.

Firstly, your employee needs to make any request in writing and they must consider the impact their request will have on the business and how that can be addressed.

A decision needs to be made within 3 months and you should meet with your employee to discuss it.

You must also deal with the application in a ‘reasonable manner’. This is determined by the new Acas Code, Statutory Code of Practice, Handling requests to work flexibly in a reasonable manner.

Remember that the right to request flexible working is just that: a request. So although your employee’s must not be subjected to a detriment for making the request, they have no right to work flexibly.

You can refuse a request for one of the eight statutory reasons e.g. the burden of additional costs or inability to reorganise work among existing staff.

You could face a claim in the Tribunal if you:

  • fail to deal with the application in a reasonable manner
  • fail to notify the employee of the decision within the decision period
  • fail to rely on one of the statutory grounds when refusing the application
  • base your decision on incorrect facts; or
  • treat the application as withdrawn when the grounds entitling you to do so do not apply.

Depending on the facts, there can sometimes be claims for sex discrimination or constructive unfair dismissal.

If you would like specialist employment law advice on flexible working requests or any other employment law issue please do give us a call 01730 268211.

N.B. Please note that the above information is a guide only and does not constitute legal advice. We recommend seeking specialist legal advice on your own particular circumstances.