What can employees request?
Flexible working requests must be in writing – so you can understand what is being requested – and can include the idea of working different or fewer hours, working remotely some of the time, or working remotely full-time. It could be quite a specific change being requested, e.g. someone who works a set amount of hours five days per week, compressing these into two or three full working days.
What process should employers follow?
It’s important to follow a formal procedure in dealing with any statutory flexible working requests you receive. You have three months to complete the consideration of the request which includes an appeal. Always arrange to meet with the employee, have a note taker present and offer the employee the right to bring a work colleague or trade union representative.
How do I reach a decision on a flexible working request?
During the formal procedure you should always discuss the viability of the request and the impact it will have the business, both positively and negatively. It is vital that you do not judge the employee for the reason behind their request, consider whether a trial period would be appropriate and, if it is, set a review date on which the changes can be reviewed and made permanent or the request is rejected. If you are rejecting the request you must include the reasons why, and base it on at least one of the following grounds:
- The burden of additional costs
- An inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff
- An inability to recruit additional staff
- A detrimental impact of quality of output
- A detrimental impact on performance
- A detrimental effect on ability to meet the demands of customers
- Insufficient workload for the times the employee has proposed to work
- Planned structural changes to the business
Do I have a choice if someone in the team is already working flexibly?
It is important to review and consider each request independently from others and previous decisions on requests. Just because you have agreed for one person to finish early on a Friday, it doesn’t mean you have to grant that for everyone if it will have a detrimental impact on your business. It’s important to give each request serious consideration.
If you have any queries on managing flexible working requests, then get in touch with our team.