Any employee can make a statutory flexible working request as long as they have 26 weeks’ service and they can only make one request in any 12 month period. This right to request is contained in the Flexible Working Regulations 2014 and an employer must deal with these requests in a “reasonable manner”. It’s vital that managing flexible working requests is done properly and in line with employment law guidance.
There is also the option for employees to make non-statutory flexible working requests if they don’t fit in with the statutory criteria. It’s still advisable to respond to these requests in writing as employees also have the protection of discrimination legislation.
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.
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.
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:
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.
A blog by Loch Associates Group
If you have any queries on managing flexible working requests, then get in touch with our team.