Business Law

Flexible Working and Your Business

Attitudes to work and achieving a work life balance mean that employers are often now approached by their employees asking to work flexibly. 

In April 2003 the Employment Act introduced provisions to allow employees to request changes in their hours or days of work or place of work and the Act set out a process for employers to deal with these requests.

For an employee to qualify they must have been working for their employer for at least 26 weeks before making the request.  They had to be a caring for a child who is under 17 (or a disabled child under 18) or a spouse or partner or other adult who needs their care and is living at the same address. However, since 30th June 2014 the right has been extended to cover any employee for any purpose.

An employee must follow a proper procedure to make a request.  There are no set forms, but the employee needs to make the application in writing. 

If the employer agrees to the request in the first instance, then it will simply be a matter of varying the Contract of Employment to reflect the agreed change.  If, however, the employer is not sure if they can agree the request, they need to call the employee to a meeting.  An employer cannot simply refuse the request, but must have valid grounds to do so and there are a limited number of specified grounds on which the employer can refuse the request.  If the employer refuses the request, the employee has a right of appeal. 

Employers must be careful to follow the correct procedure, as if they do not, an employee can make a complaint to the Employment Tribunal.  If an employee is dismissed for making a flexible working request this would be an automatically unfair dismissal.  Accordingly, it is very important for an employer to follow the proper procedure. 

The above is a summary of the rights and procedures relating to a flexible working request.  If you would like more information about how to deal with such requests, or advice on any specific request made to you please contact us.

For further information please contact:

Marina Vincent on 020 8422 5678