Until the 30 June 2014 an employee who provided care to a child or adult relation could apply to change their hours or work pattern. From the 1 July 2014 all employees may make an application for flexible working, provided they have been continuously employed for twenty-six weeks before the application is made. However, please note that employees can only make one formal application (known as a statutory application) every twelve months.
A request for flexible working covers different work patterns. That might be to job share, to work from home, to work part-time, to work full-time hours but over fewer days in the week, to work flexi-time or to stagger start and finish times.
There are forms available to assist you in making the application but the law only requires that the application must:-
a) be in writing;
b) contain the date it is made;
c) confirm that it is a statutory request;
d) confirm the details of how the employee wants to work flexibly and the proposed start date;
e) contain an explanation of how they think that the business might be able to cope with the flexible working request;
f) confirm whether the applicant has made a similar request within the preceding twelve months.
The employer must consider the application carefully and provide a reasoned response within three months (unless a longer period has been agreed).
An employer can only reject a request for flexible working on certain statutory grounds, namely:-
i) if the extra costs would damage the business;
ii) that the work cannot be re-organised amongst other staff;
iii) that people cannot be recruited to do the work that would otherwise be done by the flexible worker;
iv) that flexible working would affect quality and performance;
v) that the business would not be able to meet customer demand;
vi) there is insufficient work for the flexible worker to carry out during the time they are willing to work;
vii) that the business is in any event planning changes to the workforce.
Employees do not have a right to appeal the employer’s decision but if the employer does not respond to their request or rejects the request for a reason other than those set out above, the employee can apply to an Employment Tribunal, provided they do so within three months of the decision.
The Employment Tribunal cannot insist that an employer complies with the request but can award compensation if they have failed to give proper consideration to an employee’s requests.