With the dawn of the internet and the changing nature of family life within our society, many more people are turning to flexible working patterns. Employers have seen a corresponding increase in the number of flexible working requests from their employees. An employee has a right in law to request flexible working once they have worked for the employer for 26 continuous weeks. Quite often a refusal to grant a flexible working request can lead to a discrimination claim.
As an employer how can you mitigate this risk and a potential sense of ill will with your workforce?
An employer should aim to respond to a flexible working request within 3 months but an extended timeframe to consider the request can be agreed on with the employee. If granted the employer must write to the employee as soon as reasonably possible with the changes and start date, as well as amend the employment contract to reflect the changes.
- Inflicting extra costs that will harm the business
- Inability to reorganize workload amongst staff
- People can’t be recruited to manage the workload
- Quality and performance will be affected
- The business will be unable to meet customer demand
- There’s a lack of work to be done during the proposed working times
- The business has plans to change the workforce
The Employment Tribunal and ACAS advise that an employer should grant a right of appeal against a refusal to grant a flexible working request. So if you don’t already allow for appeals it is a good idea that you do this. Also for added transparency it might be advisable to include your flexible working procedure and practices within your staff handbook.
Written by Bruno Rodrigues. If this article interest you and you wish to discuss this or any other legal issue, please don’t hesitate to contact us!