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.

“The speed of their service levels combined with high quality advice always exceeds our expectations and as a result we have been a satisfied client of the firm for over 7 years. I would not hesitate to recommend Loch Employment Law to any business.”
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
“The expertise of Loch Employment Law made me feel in very safe hands. Caroline was thorough at explaining the legal situation, giving clear advice and was committed to getting me a fair outcome.
Senior Professional

“Thanks for all your help. Very impressed how you pressed the negotiations forward on Wednesday to allow us to reach a quick resolution.”
App Developer

“Being a new employer can be very daunting but she gave me the confidence to forge ahead with the process always explaining things in a straight forward manner.” Dave Mac, Employer

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