Coronavirus Guidance for Employers - Click Here

Flexible Working: Five Fast Facts

Employees are increasingly placing importance on what they see as a good work life balance but what are their rights when it comes to making a statutory flexible working request? Here are five fast facts to help employers when it comes to dealing with this area.

1. Who can make a statutory flexible working request?

Employees with at least 26 weeks’ continuous service can use the right to request flexible working. Only one statutory flexible working request can be made in any 12 month period, with time being counted from the date on which the employee makes their first request.

2. What sort of changes can an employee ask for?

Employees can request changes to the hours they are required to work, the times when they are required to work or where they are required to work.

The right to request flexible working allows employees to make a variety of requests regarding their working pattern. The types of requests we often see are requests to reduce working hours from full time to part time, to work from home for some or all of the employee’s working time or to work during term time only.

3. Can flexible working requests be made for any reason?

Yes. The right to request flexible working is no longer limited to those who make a request to care for a child or an adult. 

4. Do we have to agree to a flexible working request?

No. However, employers can only refuse a flexible working request on certain permitted statutory grounds.

These are:

  • The burden of additional costs;
  • Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demands or detrimental impact on quality or performance;
  • Inability to re-organise work among existing staff or inability to recruit additional staff;
  • Insufficiency of work during the periods the employee proposes to work;
  • Planned structural changes.

It’s important for employers to bear in mind that  no flexible working request should be dismissed without due consideration and that advice should be sought on the facts of the individual case before a flexible working request is refused –  even if you think one or more of the grounds for refusal applies. This is because employees can complain to an employment tribunal about how they and/or their request has been treated.

5. What should we do if an employee makes a flexible working request?

If you receive a flexible working request, you must consider it and deal with it promptly in a ‘reasonable manner’.

In most cases, this will usually involve starting the process by formally inviting the employee to attend a flexible working meeting to discuss their request. You should contact Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd for detailed advice on the process to follow. We can also assist you with letters, other documentation and guidance you may need when dealing with a statutory flexible working request.

If you have an employment law matter you would like assistance with, please do not hesitate to contact Kingfisher Professional Services Ltd as we are happy to help.