Flexible Working

Do I Have The Right To Flexible Working?

Flexible Working

As of 6 April 2024, all employees have the right to ask their employer for flexible working. Prior to this date, an employee needed to have worked for their employee continuously for 26 weeks to have the right to ask for flexible working. It is therefore clear that in the UK flexible working has become more prominent and recognised. We set out flexible working examples below. There are of course advantages and disadvantages to flexible working so a good understanding of this issue is important. The flexible working model and how companies approach this issue can vary, so please also make sure you are aware of any internal policies on this subject. The reason for making a flexible working request is often important and there may be cross over with discrimination, such as disability discrimination and/or sex discrimination.

Flexible working is a popular option, giving employees the chance to work in the way that suits their lifestyle and their family situation. Employers do not have to agree to flexible working, but they should give your request open-minded consideration and engage in meaningful dialogue with you when making their decision. If they refuse your request, they must have a valid business reason for doing so.

At Toner Legal, we specialise in employment law for employees. We can advise you of your flexible working rights and check that your employer has handled your case correctly, responding to your request within the time limit and only refusing if they have a permitted reason.

We have many years of experience in helping employees deal with difficult employment issues. We provide an excellent service and are always happy to talk through concerns with clients, providing the guidance and support needed.

What is flexible working?

Flexible working is also sometimes referred to as agile working and encompasses a wide range of options, including:

  • Compressed hours, where full-time hours are fitted into fewer, longer days
  • Part-time working
  • Job sharing
  • Flexitime, where you work core hours but can choose your start and end times, for example, 8-4 or 10-6
  • Staggered hours, where you have a fixed start and end times, but they are different to those of other employees
  • Annualised hours, where you work core hours and must work a set number of hours over the year
  • Working from home
  • Hybrid working, where some hours are worked at home and some at the employer’s premises

Do I have the right to flexible working?

There is no right to, but as an employee, you do have the right to request flexible working. As of 6 April 2024, this right arises from day one of employment.

How do I request flexible working?

If you want to work flexibly, you need to write to your employer and ask. You should think about what type of working arrangement will best suit you and how you think this will work in practice. Being able to show your employer that you have thought the request through and that you have a plan that will allow your work to still be done efficiently will help them consider your request in a positive light.

Your letter should include details of the changes you would like and the date that you would like them to take effect. You should explain how you think the changes will affect your employer and how the changes can be dealt with.

If you feel that the changes will be beneficial, then explaining this could support your case.

You should also let your employer know if you are asking for changes because of a disability or because you have responsibilities as a carer.

What happens after I make a flexible working request?

Your employer should give your request reasonable and fair consideration and, as of 6 April 2024, respond within two months.

They can discuss your request with you and if they are not prepared to agree to it, they should look at whether there are any other options.

What if my request is refused?

An employer can only turn down a request if they have a valid business reason for doing so. This includes where:

  • It would be too expensive
  • The work cannot be distributed to other employees
  • More employees cannot be recruited
  • The standard of work will be negatively impacted
  • The business will be less able to meet customer demand
  • Standards of performance will fall
  • There is insufficient work available during the hours an employee has requested work
  • The employer intends to make changes to the business and your request will not work when the changes are made

Objecting to the refusal of a flexible working request

In some circumstances, it may be possible to make a claim against an employer if they refuse a request to work flexible. This includes where:

  • They did not have a valid business reason for refusing
  • They discriminated against you when refusing your request
  • Their facts for refusing were incorrect
  • They did not respond to your request within the time limit

It is also unlawful to dismiss someone or treat them less favourably because they have made a request to work flexibly.

Your employment contract or employee handbook may allow you to appeal if your request is rejected. If it does not, you can still ask your employer if they will consider an appeal. This will give you the opportunity to address their response point by point and try to find a way in which flexible working will be viable.

Disclaimer

This blog is for information purposes only. Nothing should be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice and nothing written should be construed as legal advice or perceived as creating a lawyer-client relationship.

Contact our employment lawyers for flexible working rights

If you have had a flexible working request refused and you believe that your employer does not have a valid reason for doing so, contact us and we will discuss what has happened and the steps that can be taken to deal with the situation.

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