Flexible Working Arrangements – Your Rights

What is Flexible Working?

Flexible working is working in a way which better suits you personally but still allows you to work effectively.

How do I make a Flexible Working Request?

Employees should write to their employer making it clear that they are making a flexible working request. There are specific things which must be covered within the letter to ensure it complies with all the regulations.

What happens if my employer refuses a flexible working request?

If you believe that your employer has acted unreasonably in turning down your request and you have to leave your job or has falsely claimed that there are sound business reasons why your request cannot be met then you should talk to an employment lawyer.

What if I am treated differently after making a flexible working request?

If your employer treats you differently after you have submitted a flexible working request, you are protected by employment law from being treated unfavourably or dismissed because you have made a request.

If you find yourself in this situation, Tribunal Claim can help and advise you on what you can do and whether or not you have a claim against your employer.

What if my employer refuses my flexible working request?

It is worth remembering that an employee can only make one flexible working request per year. It is wise to think carefully about what is likely to be acceptable to your employer as once a request is refused an employee cannot put in another amended request for 12 months.

What is the process once I have made a flexible working written request?

Once the employer has received your flexible working request (known as a statutory request), they have three months in which to respond to it unless the employee agrees to wait longer for a decision.

If the employer is happy to implement the changes requested by the employee then it must alter the employees contract to show the new arrangements.

If, on the other hand, the employer does not wish to agree to the employees proposal to work flexibly then it must write to the employee and give the business reasons why it cannot permit flexible working.

Who can make Flexible Working Requests?

All employees, not just parents and carers, who have worked for the same organisation for 26 weeks or more are entitled to request an alteration in the hours, times and location in which they work.

For example:

A mother returning from maternity leave may wish to put in a flexible working request to change her hours or work from home for some of her working week.

Or perhaps:

A civil engineer, who wishes to alter her hours so that she can do more voluntary work with her local church and have a better work life balance.

Such requests are known as flexible working requests.

Making A Flexible Working Application

Previously, flexible working requests were limited to those employees with children. Nowadays, any person who has been employed for 26 weeks for the same company is entitled to make a flexible working request.

Requests can be made informally or formally as statutory requests.

Why make an informal request?

If you have not worked for your employer for 26 you will not be eligible to make a statutory request but you may feel that your employer might still agree to changes in the way in which you work.

How to Make an Informal Request

It’s a good idea to set out your informal request in writing making sure to date your letter or email.

You should set out clearly what new arrangement you are seeking.

For example, that you do not wish to work during the school holidays or that you wish to start earlier and finish early. Although you do not have to provide details, it might be a good idea to give your reasons for making the request.

Or for example that you would like to catch an earlier train or that you struggle with childcare arrangements.  This is certainly worth considering if you think your employers refusal might give rise to a claim for indirect discrimination.

You should set out how you think this could be made to work for your employer. For example, that you will still be able to get the same amount of work done during your altered hours.

How to make a Statutory Request

(1) You must make a statutory request in writing stating on the letter that it is a Statutory Working Request;

(2) You must put the date on the letter;

(3) You should set out the changes you would like and when you would like those changes to begin;

(4) You should make clear any effect that the proposed changes will have on your employer;

(5) Tell your employer if there is a reason that you are making the request that they should know about.  For example, if you suffer from a disability and have been advised that limiting your working hours will prevent your condition from worsening you should make it clear that you are asking for a reasonable adjustment.

(6) You are not obliged to tell your employer why you are making the request.  There is no need for you to justify yourself and your request in this way.  You may wish to include the motivation behind your request if you think it will help.  An employer may make more effort to bend over backwards if they know how necessary the changes are to you.

(7) You should state whether this is your first request for flexible working and if not give the date of your previous request.  This is because you are only entitled to make one flexible working request per year.  You can still make informal requests.