The right to apply to work flexibly has been extended to all employees with over 26 weeks service. Employers are under a legal obligation to consider these requests seriously.

Eligible employees are able to request a change to the hours that they work, a change to the times that they are required to work and/or to work from home. Although the rules that previously applied to flexible working have been relaxed applicants must put their requests in writing. The employee has a duty to consider how the company could accommodate their request.

In order to become eligible, there are a range of considerations that an employee has to satisfy, but the legislation does ask employers to consider all types of working patterns, such as annualised hours, flexitime, job sharing, shift working etc before arriving at a decision.

Within the framework of the regulations there are time limits in which employers need to respond to meet with the employee and there is also the provision for the right of appeal against a decision by an employer. 

The employer is under no obligation to agree to the request but will be required to give details of why any such request is being rejected. That reason has to be one of those outlined in the regulations, which are:

  • Extra costs which will damage the business
  • The business will not be able to meet customer demand
  • The work cannot be re-organised between the other staff
  • People cannot be recruited to do the work
  • Flexible working will have and effect on quality and performance
  • There is a lack of work to do in the proposed working times
  • The business is planning changes to the workforce
  • Flexible working will have a detrimental impact on quality

Employees who are dissatisfied with the employer's response to their request can potentially pursue the matter through an Employment Tribunal for a remedy or through the ACAS arbitration scheme

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