Many people will have been reflecting on their working and personal lives over the course of the pandemic and some employees may have been working under temporary arrangements, such as working from home, giving them a new perspective on how they wish to work in future. This may lead to some employers starting to see an increase in flexible working requests from employees in the coming months.
With this in mind here are three fast facts that employers may find it helpful to know.
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.
Employees can make a flexible working request for any reason and can ask for changes such as changes to the hours they are required to work, the times when they are required to work or where they are required to work.
2. Do we have to agree to a flexible working request?
Employers don’t have to agree to a flexible working request. However, employers can only refuse a 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 an employer thinks 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.
3. What should we do if an employee makes a flexible working request?
If an employer receives a flexible working request, they 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.