Flexible working requests
Flexible working requests
Employees with at least 26 weeks continuous service are entitled to make a flexible working request. While organisations are not obliged to grant every request, employers should demonstrate that it has been considered in a reasonable manner, to avoid potential disputes and claims. If a request comes from an individual who has or may have one of the nine protected characteristics covered in the Equality Act 2010, any refusal could open up the organisation to discrimination claims.
Flexible working can involve a wide variety of different working practices, from job-sharing to remote working or flexi-time, in which the range of hours worked are different from the typical 9 to 5 pattern. Loch Employment Law can provide guidance on handling flexible working requests; a growing area of concern for many organisations.
As more employees embrace the possibilities of flexible working and the demand for a reconfigured professional timetable grows, employers must be aware of the potential dangers of not handling flexible working requests appropriately.
Operations Director, Professional Services
How Loch Employment Law can help
Loch Employment Law can help you navigate the ACAS code of handling flexible working requests, minimising the risk of claims. Beyond helping your organisation define a standardised process for dealing with flexible working requests, Loch Employment Law can assist you with individual cases, helping to provide pragmatic advice as to the commercial viability of any request.
Handling a flexible working request
While it is important to have proper procedures in place for dealing with flexible working requests, there are multiple benefits to employers in considering them. This is especially the case in scenarios where an employee genuinely believes that it will make them work more effectively, and/or where it will help alleviate problems with carrying out work related to disability, family and pregnancy, or other personal circumstances.
Reports have demonstrated that when employers readily agree to flexible working requests, staff retention can be improved and absenteeism reduced. Flexible working time can also make a workplace more attractive to prospective employees, promoting an employer brand that fosters a culture of support.
However, employers should be aware of the legal ramifications that may result from any refusal. Every flexible working request must therefore be considered carefully, as any failure to follow the proper procedure can result in time consuming and costly disputes.
A flexible working request may only be rejected if it would:
- Incur the burden of additional costs
- Be detrimental to the ability of the organisation to fulfil customer demand
- Result in problems reorganising work around other employees
- Result in problems related to recruiting additional employees
- Compromise the quality of the output of the organisation
- Compromise the performance of the organisation
- Result in insufficient work being produced by the employee
- Contradict planned structural changes to the organisation