Flexible working is typically a request to vary your normal or contractual working pattern so that it better suits you and your needs. Arrangements include part-time working, flexitime and job sharing. Following the Pandemic, an increasingly popular flexible working trend is that of ‘hybrid’ working which allows employees to work both in the workplace and at a remote location, such as their home.
Every employee with sufficient service has a statutory right to request flexible working, and all requests must be dealt with reasonably. Many employers also have their own policies.
Under the statutory rules employees have the right to make a flexible working request once they have at least 26 weeks’ continuous service, provided they have not already made a request in the past 12 months.
A request must be made in writing, and should include the following:
You can also make a request informally, and it is important that employers also treat these requests reasonably; however verbal requests are not covered by the statutory scheme. You can find a template application here: Right to request flexible working: application form – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Your employer should then discuss your request with you at a meeting and then let you know their decision within three months of your request.
The approval should be confirmed in writing, together with details of when the change will start and for how long arrangements will last. Your employer may also include a date to review the changes with you.
Generally the flexible working arrangements will constitute a change in the terms of your employment contract and therefore you would usually be asked to sign to confirm your agreement to the changes.
Your employer can only refuse your request there is a valid business reason for doing so. This includes:
You can ask for a trial period, however, your employer may still refuse your request if it can demonstrate one of the above business reasons applies.
It may be worth having an informal discussion with your employer about the reasons your request was denied. You can also appeal to your employer in writing, setting out your reasons.
You could also consider raising a formal grievance if there were problems with the process or specific concerns.
Your employer should also not treat you unfairly or dismiss you for requesting flexible working.
Flexible working can help to improve your work-life balance, assist with family responsibilities, or may be essential to managing your disability. Whatever the reason, our employment law solicitors will be able to advise you on your rights. Contact one of our specialists below or visit our employment pages for individuals here.