Sometimes a workers’ circumstances change and to assist this they may need more flexibility with their job.
Every employee, with at least 26 weeks service, has the right to request flexible working which includes working from home or changing their working hours whether this be their pattern of work or numbers of hours they work.
If an employee puts in a request, which must be done in writing and with a reason as to why they are asking for this change, then you have a duty to handle the request appropriately and with full consideration.
As soon as you receive a request, you should arrange a meeting to discuss it further but this is not a statutory requirement and is just good practice.
A sit-down meeting can help establish a better understanding as to why the employee has made the request and allow for an opportunity to reach a compromise that best suits both the employee and the business.
The law states that the request for flexible working must be dealt with within three months of the request being received, including any appeals, so it’s best to act upon it at the earliest opportunity.
It may be an easy enough request that doesn’t have a major effect on the business, such as an employee working remotely once or twice a week, so you could find that you don’t require a meeting and that you are willing to grant the application.
However, it may require a bit more consideration if it does have a detrimental effect on the business and the request is not being made under the Equality Act 2010.
Such examples of acceptable reasons for refusing a request for flexible working are:
- 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
- A 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
However, you must ensure that when refusing requests, you are able to clearly justify the above reason with explanations of why the reason is being cited. It is not enough to just state “burden of additional cost”. If you choose to refuse a request then the employee does have a right to appeal, so you must ensure that you have given the request fair consideration and that refusal is made only on the above grounds.
If you opt to grant the request then this will require appropriate changes such as a permanent change to contract which should be confirmed in writing. Once a request is granted no further flexible working request can be submitted for 12 months.
For further information or advice on dealing with requests for flexible working, get in touch with us today on 0845 2626 260