Flexible working

It makes sense to treat your employees fairly. This includes considering their personal circumstances when they want flexible working.

Nearly all employees with more than 26 weeks’ continuous service can request to change how they work. Most requests are to accommodate family or caring commitments, but there need not be a reason. Flexible working can be any kind of arrangement which departs from the standard work pattern and includes flexi-time, compressed hours, home-working, part-time working and job sharing.


How you respond to a request is crucial

When you receive a request for flexible working it is important to not automatically dismiss it or suggest the application will be rejected. You should always give careful thought to whether you can balance your needs as a business with the employee’s request. We can help.

As an employer, you are permitted to refuse a request, but only in a limited number of circumstances. These are

  • The burden of additional costs
  • An inability to reorganise work amongst existing staff
  • An inability to recruit additional staff
  • A detrimental impact on quality
  • A detrimental impact on performance
  • Detrimental effect on ability to meet customer demand
  • Insufficient work for the periods the employee proposes to work
  • A planned structural change to the business.

Failing to properly consider an application can lead to a Tribunal claim and an award of up to 8 weeks’ pay.   In the worst cases, failure to comply with the law can lead to your employee resigning and bringing a claim for constructive dismissal because they have lost trust and confidence in you.

If the request was to accommodate child care responsibilities, a woman could bring a claim for sex discrimination. The average Tribunal award for sex discrimination is £19,152.

When an employee wants to change their working pattern, it is important you deal with the enquiry properly and promptly. If you don’t already have a policy in place to follow then we can take you through the process with the minimum inconvenience and delay to your business. We will advise you on how to deal with the request in a balanced way, how you can negotiate a compromise and provide you with all the guidance and documents you need to consider the application and the implications for your business.

If you do need to reject a request, you will have the confidence that you have followed best practice and made a fair decision within the law.

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