It’s not just parents that can request flexible working…

With a new generation of kids starting school you may see an increase in flexible working requests to accommodate the school run and after school care needs. But it is not just parents that can request flexible working. Since 2014 the statutory right to request flexible working was extended to all employees with 26 weeks qualifying service.

In January of this year a campaign was launched by the Flexible Working Task Force to increase the uptake of flexible working. This coincided with the publication of a flexible working report by the CIPD which found that the use of flexible working has plateaued since 2010 despite the potential benefits it can bring to businesses:

  • Improved productivity
  • Increased commitment and engagement
  • Improved attendance
  • Better staff retention
  • A more flexible and agile workforce

Key facts

To make a request for flexible working employees must:

  • make their request in writing, state the date the request is made, the change to working conditions they are seeking, and the date they would like the change to take effect. 
  • state whether they have made a previous application for flexible work and the date of that application.
  • what change to working conditions they are seeking and how they think this may affect the business e.g. cost saving to the business.
  • if they are making their request in relation to the Equality Act 2010, for example, as a reasonable adjustment for disabled employee.

Handling requests to work flexibly

As an employer you should:

  • arrange a meeting to discuss the request. It is good practice to do this as soon as possible.
  • Although not a statutory requirement it is good practice to allow the employee to be accompanied by a work colleague or trade union representative.
  • The whole process, including any appeals, must be completed within 3 months.

Accepted requests

  • Any request that is accepted will make a permanent change to the employee’s contract.
  • If the employee wants a temporary change then an agreement may be reached together with any comprise if the original request cannot be accommodated.

Refusing requests

A statutory request can only be refused for one of the 8 statutory business reasons:

  • 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.

Contact us here at Totally HR for more help and advice on flexible working requests.