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Under the Flexible Working Regulations 2014, all employees that have been employed for 26 weeks or more have a legal right to request flexible working arrangements

For employers, all flexible working requests must be qualified reasonably and done within three months of the request being made.

To help you navigate your obligations, we have answered some of the most frequently asked questions regarding flexible working requests.

What does flexible working mean?

Flexible working is a way of working that suits an employee’s way of life.

For example, if they have recently become a parent, an employee may want to work from home or alter their start and finish time. Flexible working can also include job sharing, compressed hours, staggered hours, and phased retirement.

By law, to qualify for flexible working, the staff member must have been employed by your organisation for 26 weeks or more.

What does an employer have to do if they receive a flexible working request?

If you receive a flexible working request (which should always be in writing), you will need follow the Acas Code of Practice on flexible working requests. Failure to do so could mean your employee will be able to make a claim at the Employment Tribunal if they feel their flexible working request was not adequately dealt with.

Under the Acas Code, employers “should consider the request carefully, looking at the benefits of the requested changes in working conditions for the employee and your business and weighing these against any adverse business impact of implementing the changes.”

Flexible working arrangements might include:

  • Changing from full-time to part-time work
  • Changing the part-time hours that an employee works (from weekends to weekdays)
  • Changing working hours to fit in with school hours, college hours or care arrangements
  • Compressed hours (working the usual hours on fewer days)
  • Flexitime (which allows fitting the working hours around agreed core times)
  • When an employee works from home or remotely for part or all of the time
  • Time off in lieu
  • Annualised hours (where working time is organised around the number of hours to be worked over a year rather than over a week)

What are the benefits of flexible working?

Here are some of the benefits that flexible working can bring to your workforce, team productivity and company morale:

  • Increased productivity
  • Reduced stress and burnout
  • A healthier work-life balance
  • Better job satisfaction
  • An improved workforce talent pool

Can I reject a flexible working request?

A flexible working request can only be rejected for one of the following statutory reasons:

  • Accepting the request would be too costly
  • Work cannot be reorganised amongst existing employees
  • You cannot recruit additional staff
  • Accepting the request would lead to a detrimental impact on quality and/or performance and/or the ability to meet customer demands
  • There isn’t enough work for the periods the employee wants to work
  • You have planned structural changes for the business

Can flexible working be revoked?

If your employee has an agreement with your company and you wish to make amendments to the agreement, you will need their consent.

If the person on your staff has more than two years of service, a sound business reason is needed to reject the original request or if you wish to change the arrangement.

Is flexible working a legal right?

By law, your employee has the right to make a flexible working request if:

  • They have worked for your company for at least 26 weeks
  • They are legally classed as an employee
  • They haven’t made any other flexible working request in the last 12 months

Get legal assistance from LawBite

It's essential you ensure you’re making fair decisions regarding your employee's flexible working request and you’re following the law. 

If you refuse the request and the refusal is not for a statutory reason, or the process of managing the request is unreasonable, your employee could bring a claim to the Employment Tribunal.

LawBite has helped 1000s of businesses achieve their commercial ambitions and regulatory compliance. To find out how we can help support you on all employment law matters, book a free 15 minute consultation or call us on 020 3808 8314

Additional resources

In closing

Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice on which you should rely. The article is provided for general information purposes only. Professional legal advice should always be sought before taking any action relating to or relying on the content of this article. Our Platform Terms of Use apply to this article.

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