The Law at Work

Flexible working

You can make a formal request which should be in writing for flexible working provided you have at least 26 weeks continuous service, and you have not made a formal request within the last 12 months. You can download a form to make a request for flexible working here.

The right to request flexible working is open to all and not just parents or carers. 

If you do not meet the above requirements, you can make an informal request for flexible working. In this case, you do not need to follow a formal procedure, and your employer should give such a request adequate consideration; otherwise, and depending on the circumstances, a refusal may amount to discrimination.

There are different reasons why you might want to request flexible working, for example:

Annualised hours: Where you work a certain number of hours over the year but have some flexibility about when you work.

Compressed hours: Where you work full-time hours, but over less days.

Flexi-time: Where you choose when to start and finish work.

Job sharing: Where the work is shared with two people who split the hours.

Part-time: Where you work less hours or fewer days.

 

Phased retirement: Where you want to reduce your hours and work part-time.

Staggered hours: Where you have a different start, finish and break times from other workers.

Working from home: Where you carry out some or all of your work from home or anywhere else other than in your workplace.


There are three primary obligations that your employer has to discharge on receiving your request for flexible working. These are to:
 

  • deal with your request in a reasonable manner;

  • notify you of the decision;

  • only refuse your request on proper grounds.

Your employer must deal with your request and any subsequent appeal if your request is refused within three months. You can download Acas Guidance about making a request for flexible working here and how flexible working requests should be handled here

Your request for flexible working should:

  • be in writing;

  • state the date your request is made;

  • state the change to working conditions you are seeking;

  • state the date you would like the change to take effect.

Your request should also state:

  • whether you have made a previous request for flexible work and the date of that request;

  • what change to your working conditions you are looking for and how you think this may affect your employer's business;

  • whether you are making your request under the provisions of the Equality Act 2010, for example, as a reasonable adjustment if you are a disabled employee.

After receiving your request for flexible working, and to remain in line with ACAS guidance, your employer should meet with you in private to discuss your request with you as soon as possible. Although holding a meeting is not a statutory requirement, but it would be good practice for your employer to allow you to be accompanied at the meeting by a workplace colleague or a trade union representative. Matters to be discussed at the meeting should include the impact of your request and changes that would have to be made to your terms and conditions of employment, such as any reduction on salary, bonuses etc.

Your employer should consider the benefits of your request to both you and your employer's business as well any as adverse impact on the business. If your employer has any doubts about your request, this could be overcome by arranging a trial period which allows both you and your employer to consider the suitability of your request.
 
After thorough consideration, if your employer decides not to allow your request, you will have a right to appeal against this decision. If you appeal, then your appeal should be conducted, where possible, by someone more senior within the business.
 
Since you will be restricted to submitting one request every 12 months, you should give careful consideration to your request before you make it. Before making your request, you could also consider discussing it with your employer as this may lead to your employer suggesting arrangements that might be available. 
 
Once you have made your request, you should remain open to alternative suggestions from your employer that may help the arrangement work better for both you and your employer. 

 

Your request for flexible working can only be refused on the following grounds:

  • 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 

  • detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand 

  • insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work 

  • a planned structural changes to the business.

 
If your employer fails to deal with your request for flexible working reasonably, within a reasonable period, or refuses your request on improper grounds, or makes a decision based on incorrect facts, then you may consider making a claim to the Employment Tribunal within three months of your request being refused. However, in such circumstances, you may be awarded up to a maximum of 8 weeks pay. It should also be noted that often such a claim often includes a  claim for discrimination.

Gavin Booth

The Law at Work

19 Etive Court

Cumbernauld

Lanarkshire

Scotland

G67 4JA

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