Would You Like Flexible Working Conditions?

Would You Like Flexible Working Conditions?

Flexible working conditions

All employees with 26 weeks service are entitled to request that their employer allows them to work flexibly. Flexible working can include:

  • Working from home for all or part of the working week
  • Working part-time, say only working during term time and/or organising working hours around school pickups and drop-offs
  • Job share agreements
  • Flexi-time arrangements, where employees have set number of hours they must work, but can choose when these are worked, e.g. an employee might be able to work their seven hour day at any time between 8am and 7pm
  • Any form of arrangement to accommodate an individual’s disability

Common reasons for requesting flexible working include:

  • Child care responsibilities
  • Adult care responsibilities
  • Disabilities
  • A wish to travel to work outside peak hours
  • A wish to study for a qualification
  • A desire to reduce hours as retirement approaches

Employee requests must be made in writing, and an employee can only make one request within a 12 month period. The request must cover:

  • The nature of the change in working arrangements the individual is seeking
  • The date from which they would like the change to take effect
  • How they think the change might affect the company, e.g. in terms of costs, efficiency or practicality

A company must have a genuine business reason for refusing a request to work flexibly. Their reply must be sent within three months.

The only ‘genuine business reasons’ a company can use in rejecting a request are that the requested change would result in:

  • Additional costs
  • Difficulties in recruiting additional staff to cover the employee’s reduction in hours
  • Difficulties in re-organising the employee’s work amongst other staff
  • A detrimental impact on the individual’s quality or performance
  • The company being less able to meet customer demand

Requests may also be refused if there would be insufficient work at the times the employee proposes to work, or if structural changes within the company are planned.

If a request is refused, the employee may have recourse to their employer’s internal grievance procedure, can contact their trade union, can seek formal conciliation or arbitration, or can claim to an employment tribunal.

Companies cannot treat staff less favourably because they have made applications for flexible working, or else they risk breaching discrimination laws.

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