Flexible Working

As things start to return slowly to normal. Employers will be faced with more flexible working requests as staff evaluate their work life balance.

To handle these requests sensibly this note sets out the correct procedure an employer should follow when faced with a request. Ideally you should have a flexible working policy if not please contact me at https://www.ukemploymentlawadvice.co.uk/contact for more information.

Contrary to information in the press an employee cannot make a flexible working request from day 1 The government is consulting on this and the rules may change.

An employee must have 26 weeks service before making a request and they can only make 1 request a year
The employee should submit a formal request in writing setting out

  • state that it is a flexible working request and be dated;
  • include the changes that they want and their proposed start date;
  • explain the effect they think the changes would have on the Company and how that could be dealt with; and
  • include the dates of any previous flexible working requests.

In response the employer should set up a meeting within 28 days to discuss the request. If it is impossible to fix a mutually acceptable date during this period the employer can hold the meeting in the employee’s absence. The employee has the right to be accompanied by a workplace colleague or if they are a member of a recognised trade union a union rep.
As an employer you must consider the request reasonably, just saying no or we have never done this before is frankly not good enough. You should give consideration to innovative solutions such as job sharing
Reasons for rejection are

  • The burden of additional costs;
  • An inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff or recruit additional staff;
  • A detrimental impact on quality, performance or on our ability to meet customer demand;
  • Insufficient work for the periods the employee  proposes to work; or
  • Where the employer intends to reorganise or change the business, and consider the flexible working changes may not fit with their plans.

As an employer you don’t have to agree the request in full you can partially grant the request. The employee can appeal the rejection setting out their reasons for the appeal. There is no further appeal resulting from this meeting .


This a request from an employee not a right
Even if you agree always let the employee know you will trial the new arrangements for a limited period giving you the right to revert to the pre-existing situation if it doesn’t work out
Always record each step in the process in writing as it occurs…just in case