All employees, not just parents and carers, who have worked continuously for their employer for at least 26 weeks may apply to work flexibly. The application should be made in writing, stating their intended start date, details of how they wish to work, potential impact on the business with any possible solutions to overcome this and whether they are making an application under the Equality Act 2010 as a reasonable adjustment due to a disability. Employees may only apply for flexible working once in any 12-month period.
Dealing with Flexible Working Requests
Employers should deal with flexible working requests in a timely manner and generally within a 3-month period from receipt of the initial request. Employers should also assess any advantages or disadvantages of such applications and arrange a meeting with the individual to discuss the request in more detail.
There are different types of flexible working options including:
- Job sharing
- Part-time working
- Working from home
- Compressed hours
- Annualised hours
- Phased retirement
As an employer, if you wish to approve a request then you should write to the individual outlining all agreed changes and when they are due to take effect. Flexible working requests are generally considered permanent changes to the employment contract unless something different is agreed. Amendments should be made to the contract of employment to reflect any agreed changes.
What If I Want to Reject a Flexible Working Request?
The employer can reject a flexible working application where there are business reasons for doing so. Valid reasons may include:
- The burden of any additional costs is unacceptable to the business;
- An inability to reorganise work among existing staff;
- Inability to recruit additional staff;
- The employer considers the change will have a detrimental impact on quality of work;
- The employer considers the change would have a detrimental effect on the business’ ability to meet customer demand;
- Detrimental impact on performance;
- There is insufficient work during the periods the employee proposes to work; and
- Planned structural changes, for example, where the employer intends to reorganise or change the business and considers the flexible working changes may not fit with these plans.
If for any reason a flexible working request is rejected, employees are entitled to appeal against their employer’s decision.