17 May 2021

Flexible Working – What rights do employees have?

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way in which many people work, whether it be working more flexible hours rather than a traditional “9-5” day or working from home rather than commuting to and from an office each day. Many employees have welcomed this change to their working life which allows them to have a better balance between work and home and a lot of employers have already indicated that they will continue with this more flexible working approach going forward.
In light of the changes caused by the coronavirus pandemic, employers are likely to see more requests from employees for flexible working.

Who can make a request for flexible working?

Only employees with 26 weeks’ continuous service, are entitled to make a flexible working request. Full time and part time employees can make a request.
If an employee has already made a flexible working request, they cannot make another request for a period of 12 months.
What type of flexible working requests can an employee make?
– Request to change their working location, for example, a request to work from home all or part of their time
– Request to change the number of hours they work e.g. reduction to part time hours
– Request to work full time but over a reduced number of days e.g. they will work longer hours each day
– Request to change the hours they work e.g. starting and finishing work at different times to other employees or working different hours during a working day or working week

What process does an employer have to follow if they receive a request for flexible working?

An employee should put their request in writing, by email or letter
The request should include:
– The date of request
– Confirmation that it is a statutory request
– Details of the request for flexible working and when they would like it to start
– What impact (if any) the request is likely to have on the business and how this could be dealt with
– The request should also confirm if (and when) they have previously made a request for flexible working
An employer must consider any request for flexible working in a reasonable manner and should make a decision within three months, unless agreed otherwise.

Does an employer to allow the request to work flexibly?

An employer does not have to approve a request, but they must consider the request in a reasonable manner. An employer can refuse a flexible working request for a specific business reason.
Can an employer agree to some requests for flexible working but not others?
An employer should consider each request for flexible working on its own merits which is likely to result in some requests being agreed and some not.
An employer can decline a request for flexible working where there is a good business reason for doing so. However, when a flexible working request can not be approved for a good business reason, it may be that a solution can be reached between the parties which both employee and employer are content with.

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